The legal tampering window opened, and the Falcons were fast out of the gate. The team signed free agent deals with Jessie Bates III, David Onyemata, Kaden Elliss, and Taylor Heinicke while re-signing Bradley Pinion and Keith Smith. Atlanta also acquired Jonnu Smith via trade and made Chris Lindstrom the highest-paid guard in football.
To say the club hit the ground running would be an understatement. The Falcons are positioned nicely to make a few more significant additions and prepare for the NFL draft. The roster still has holes that need to be filled, though. Here are some positions that need addressing.
If you count Kyle Pitts, the Falcons have two receivers worth a damn. Drake London will be the defacto WR1; behind him isn’t very inspiring. It’s actually one of the few positions that haven’t seen a whole lot of free agent action. The top player on the board just signed with the Raiders in Jakobi Meyers, but the Falcons could use some speed in an offense built around big bodied pass catchers. However, I’ve still got my eye on Corey Davis, who the Jets are expected to release.
Chris Lindstrom is locked in on the right side, but the left side is still up for grabs. The Falcons have several options to compete, like Matt Hennessy, Jalen Mayfield, and Justin Shaffer, but I expect them to approach the position similarly as last year. Elijah Wilkinson proved to be a worthwhile addition and didn’t break the bank. Expect the Falcons to bring in another cheap veteran.
This is probably the most pressing need. The Falcons don’t have an obvious option to start the year at right tackle. Kaleb McGary is the top player left on the market, and the Falcons have said they’d like him back, but a deal still hasn’t come to fruition. The club may work out a long-term agreement with McGary, find a stopgap veteran option, or draft a long-term answer. The position must be addressed, though.
The Falcons haven’t done much of anything when it comes to their edge group, despite bringing back Lorenzo Carter. Kaden Elliss will likely play the WILL linebacker next to Troy Andersen, so get that out of your heads. The club was reportedly targeting Marcus Davenport before he signed with the Vikings. There aren’t many inspiring options left, but this position group needs some TLC; Atlanta can’t rely on Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone to take massive steps forward.
The Falcons have to add another starting-caliber cornerback to man the slot. The team can re-sign Isaiah Oliver; his best performance came in a Week 17 victory over the Cardinals in which he posted nine tackles, two passes defended, and a sack. There are potential free agent options like Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, who is an elite player and has familiarity with Terry Fontenot and Atlanta’s defensive coordinator. Brian Branch is an enticing prospect and would slot in perfectly. The nickel corner has become a fifth starter in the secondary in today’s NFL; expect the Falcons to bring one in.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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