Falcons' defense could take big hit in free agency

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- The Falcons are in danger of losing many of their top defensive players as free agents.

Atlanta's defensive statistical leaders who could be free agents are linebacker Curtis Lofton (tackles), defensive end John Abraham (sacks), safety Thomas DeCoud (interceptions) and cornerback Brent Grimes (passes defensed).

The Falcons have 20 players who can become free agents on March 13, including 17 who would be unrestricted free agents. The list includes longtime starting center Todd McClure, backup quarterback Chris Redman, No. 3 receiver Harry Douglas, backup running back Jason Snelling and return specialist Eric Weems.

Atlanta's defense already lost coordinator Brian VanGorder, who left to take a similar role with Auburn on Monday, one day after the Falcons' 24-2 loss to the New York Giants in the playoffs.