Atlanta is approaching training camp as the roster solidifies. The Falcons have been quiet for the months outside of dipping into free agency last week, signing Eddie Goldman to bolster the interior defensive line.
Terry Fontenot has made some interesting free agent acquisitions, despite not having much cap space to work with — Casey Hayward, Rashaan Evans, Goldman, etc. The organization is amid a rebuild, and the personnel on the roster reflects it. However, there are some free agents still available that could prove to be valuable signings.
The biggest weakness on the roster has to be the offensive line, specifically the left guard position. Jalen Mayfield was miserable during his first season as a pro, which isn’t all that surprising. He was a right tackle in college; playing a totally new position, the Michigan product struggled mightily. There is hope that he can take a massive step forward with a full offseason, but even with considerable improvement, Mayfield would be playing at a reserve level.
The problem this far into the offseason is that starting-caliber free agents are hard to come by. Quinton Spain and Nick Easton are still available. The latter might retire from football for injury reasons but did visit Atlanta earlier in the offseason. The former is probably the best option on the open market at this point, but Spain remains unsigned for some reason.
The Falcons brought in competition for Mayfield — drafting Justin Shaffer while signing Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson in free agency. But those aren’t very inspiring options. On the other side of the ball, the Falcons’ pass rush is the area of focus, which has long been a terrible facet of the team.
The Falcons did overhaul the EDGE unit by plucking Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone from the draft and signing Lorenzo Carter during free agency. The Falcons’ only returning player from the position group is Ade Ogundeji. Carter is the most experienced of the bunch, but the most sacks he’s totaled in a season is five, which came in the final four contests of 2021 for the Giants. The former UGA Bulldog is out to prove it was no fluke, but the Falcons shouldn’t rest on their laurels.
Trey Flowers could be an exciting signing. The former Patriot and Lion will be 29 during the 2022 season and could revive his value in Atlanta on a team-friendly, one-year deal. Flowers signed a massive three-year, $90 million contract with Detroit a few offseasons ago but struggled to stay healthy. If his medicals check out, he would bring excellent veteran leadership to the Falcons’ green EDGE room.
The Falcons really don’t need much bolstering elsewhere because the talent in the market just isn’t there. They could probably upgrade at center, but the staff seems focused on seeing what they have in Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman before bringing in a veteran. Kaleb McGary isn’t going to be around next season, so the front office is probably just waiting until he’s off the books to acquire a starting-caliber right tackle.
The safety unit is shaky too, but again, the Falcons’ young players need a chance to prove themselves. Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant will have ample opportunities to prove they’re starting-caliber players, so much like the rest of the Falcons’ weak position groups, an improvement could come from within due to the development of the younger players.
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