When it comes to the Falcons quarterback situation, I understand the arguments from both sides. I don’t think Atlanta is a quarterback away from launching themself into Super Bowl contention. There are too many holes on this roster, particularly defensively. In that case, I feel as if it would be best to see what they have in Ridder in 2023 with a healthy Kyle Pitts, and continue to build around the rookie. If they find out he’s not the guy, there will be plenty of options on the market next year as well.
With that being said, I also understand why the Falcons would target a quarterback over the next few months, especially if they lack confidence in Ridder. The NFC South has never been more wide open. Atlanta’s offense already has most of the pieces figured out. With the right signal caller, they could potentially run away with a weak division. We saw the Falcons target Deshaun Watson last offseason. Having Ridder in the fold changes things a bit, but if the right opportunity presents itself, Terry Fontenot has shown he isn’t afraid to pounce.
Several marquee signal callers will be on the move this offseason, and many of them could be linked to the Falcons. Here’s who I’m buying, and here’s who I’m selling as realistic quarterback candidates for Atlanta.
Buy or Sell: Buy
The situation in Las Vegas with Derek Carr is puzzling. It wasn’t long ago his name was being brought up in MVP conversations, and he was coming off a 2021 season in which he threw a career-high 4,800 yards and led the Raiders to the playoffs, nearly knocking off the Bengals in the Wild Card round. I never thought Las Vegas had a problem at quarterback, but apparently, they are done with Carr, who will be traded or released this offseason.
Set to be 32-years-old next season, Carr has plenty of good years remaining in his career, and I would still put him among the top 12 quarterbacks in the league today. What happened is Las Vegas is mind-boggling, but that’s a dysfunctional franchise, something Carr says he’s looking to avoid at his next stop. The Falcons may not have the best resumé over the last five years, but they are a well-run organization, operated by guys who are respected around the league. If you put Derek Carr in the Falcons scheme and add a #2 wide receiver, they would be a top offense in the league.
Would it be enough to put them over the top? Probably not, but I wouldn’t blame them for trying.
Buy or Sell: Buy
I have not and never will be a Ryan Tannehill fan. Even after some great regular season performances, I think he’s the primary reason the Titans could never get over the hump in the playoffs, and I understand why they would be considering moving on from him. However, it’s impossible to ignore his success under Arthur Smith.
When the two were together in Tennessee, Tannehill had his best years. He was the Comeback Player of the Year in 2019 and then followed it up with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020. I think that was more a byproduct of Smith and what he can do with a decent quarterback in his offense, but a reunion can’t be counted out. Tannehill only has one year left on his deal, and he might be enough to push the Falcons to the playoffs for the first time since 2017.
Buy or Sell: Sell
This is the dream, right? Lamar Jackson hasn’t been able to get over the hump in the playoffs, but he’s a consensus top 10 quarterback in the league, and just imagining him in Arthur Smith’s offense has me salivating. Unfortunately, that’s what every team in the league with an opening at quarterback is thinking as well. The asking price for Jackson will be through the rough, and I have a difficult time even believing the Ravens make him available. Unless they haven’t been paying attention, Baltimore is nothing without Jackson. They are one of the smartest organizations in sports. I can’t imagine them parting ways with the former MVP, especially after they have built an entire offense that really only works with him calling the shots.
Buy or Sell: Buy
This is a different type of quarterback candidate for the Falcons. The previous three are all grizzled veterans, but Lance has yet to cut his teeth in the NFL and is coming off a devastating ankle injury. Because of that, he may have lost his starting job, and the 49ers could be looking to recoup some of the picks they used to acquire Lance by dealing him this offseason.
Looking back on the 2021 NFL Draft, Lance was linked to the Falcons on several occasions. Many believe that is who Atlanta was going to select 4th overall, which is why the 49ers jumped them to land their guy. Because of everything San Francisco gave up to acquire Lance, I understand why they would stick with him, but Brock Purdy has given them another option, and there are plenty of teams — like the Falcons — that could be interested in Lance.
I don’t think it’s the most likely scenario, but Lance’s style of play would fit seamlessly into Arthur Smith’s offense, and if the Falcons really were in on him going into the draft, I could see them targeting him a second time this offseason.
Photographer: Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire Derek Carr