The Falcons have the second most cap space in the NFL entering the offseason. The team has around $56 million, and that number could grow to nearly $70 million if they part ways with Marcus Mariota, which I expect them to do. With all of that money and plenty of areas to upgrade the roster, the Falcons will be active in the free agent market. And they’re already getting a little help from Cordarrelle Patterson.
Keenan Allen isn’t set to hit free agency this offseason, but it has been speculated that he’ll be a cap casualty. The Chargers are over extended financially and will have to make a few tough decisions. Allen could be one of them. Atlanta needs a WR2 to accentuate Drake London; it’s a possibility.
On the other hand, Daron Payne will be a free agent as one of the most notable defenders set to hit the open market. He would be a welcomed addition to Atlanta’s defensive front; the Falcons haven’t had a player of Payne’s caliber next to Grady Jarrett for his entire career. Here’s an excerpt from his free agent profile:
Per Pro Football Focus, Payne has the most run stops (86) from 2018-20 and 95 quarterback pressures since 2021 (10th-most). He’s quickly established himself in the upper echelon of defensive linemen, with an ability to successfully defend the run and rush the passer.
Payne posted a career-high in sacks (11.5), tackles (64), tackles for loss (18), and quarterback hits (20) this season. He was voted to Pro Football Writers of America’s All-NFC team along with Dexter Lawrence and Javon Hargrave. His sack total only trails Chris Jones and Quinnen Williams, earning the first Pro Bowl selection of his career. Even when he can’t get to the quarterback, he affects the game, posting a career-high five pass breakups this season, tied for seventh at his position.
Even before he was recruiting free agents, Cordarrelle Patterson was giving Falcons GM Terry Fontenot a helping hand in the search for a defensive coordinator. Before landing on Ryan Nielsen, the Falcons were reportedly interested in hiring Steve Wilks and Vic Fangio to coordinate the defense, to which Patterson voiced his support.
Cordarrelle Patterson has only spent a short time in Atlanta, but he’s rapidly become a fan favorite. All of this recruiting may seem silly; it’s not, though. Players choose free agent destinations for a number of reasons. Sometimes it’s as simple as whoever offers the most money; other times, geography or the opportunity to win a Super Bowl are factors. Most of the time, it’s a combination of several. A familiar face vouching for a potential landing spot could be what seals the deal too.
A lot of times, quarterbacks can convince free agents to follow them. Tom Brady has done it. Several marquee free agents almost followed Deshaun Watson to Atlanta. Now, Cordarrelle Patterson is doing his best to make the Falcons a free agent destination.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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