The Atlanta Falcons roster has undergone a complete facelift. When Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smtih took over following the 2020 season, the team was riddled with bloated contracts, overpaid veterans, and little to be desired. The first-time general manager has rid the roster of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Deion Jones, Dante Fowler, Calvin Ridley, and others. In less than two seasons, the Falcons have completely reshaped the roster from the Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff era.
Here are the only players left from the 2020 season in which the team started 0-5, and the two men were relieved of their duties:
- WR Olamide Zaccheaus
- FB Keith Smith
- LT Jake Matthews
- C Matt Hennessy
- RG Chris Lindstrom
- RT Kaleb McGary
- DT Grady Jarrett
- LB Mykal Walker
- CB AJ Terrell
- CB Isaiah Oliver
- S Jaylinn Hawkins
- K Younghoe Koo
Zaccheaus was brought back this past offseason on a one-year deal and has likely earned himself another deal next season if he wants to re-sign with the Falcons. Keith Smith has been a rockstar that will get no credit because of his position. As a lead blocker in Arthur Smith’s offense, Smith’s job is critical to the unit’s overall success.
Matthews and Jarrett were just extended this past offseason as the first lucrative contracts the new regime has handed out. And I’d venture to say the front office is happy with their decision. Jarrett is having an All-Pro season, and Matthews has looked rock solid. Chris Lindstrom will likely be the next extension candidate; he’ll enter the 2023 season on his fifth-year option, and I imagine the front office would like to get an extension done before the season. Matt Hennessy might be nearing the end of his time in Atlanta; 2023 is the final year of his current deal.
McGary didn’t have his fifth-year option picked up, but he’s had the best season of his career thus far. In a contract year, there’s not much more the former first-rounder could do to earn another deal. I could see a one-year contract for McGary, but nobody should be tied to him for multiple years.
On the defensive side of the ball, Terrell is the only guaranteed long-term piece of this team. He’s a top corner in the league, and he’ll be paid like it. However, the rest of them could go either way. Isaiah Oliver was re-signed this offseason to a one-year deal, and without an obvious replacement, I imagine the Falcons would like to bring him back on a similar deal to play the nickel again next season.
In his first season as a full-time starter, Mykal Walker has been the defense’s signal caller and has performed admirably. Troy Andersen is obviously the future at the position, but Walker is under contract in 2023. Hawkins is in a similar position as Walker. The Falcons could undoubtedly get better at both of those positions, but the two players are young and learning the nuances of NFL offenses in their first real season as starters.
And last but CERTAINLY not least, Younghoe Koo has earned his money over and over again. The Falcons placekicker is one of the best in the business, and Atlanta has him locked up until 2027.
John Adams/Icon Sportswire