ESPN misses mark with Falcons among most improved teams this offseason

NFL: SEP 14 Vikings at Eagles

The Falcons spent more than $200 million in free agency, acquiring the best quarterback on the market in Kirk Cousins as well as an intriguing pass catcher in Darnell Mooney. Though few in numbers, the Falcons’ offseason was filled with impactful acquisitions. ESPN didn’t see it that way and ranked them behind the Texans (1), Jaguars (2), and Commanders (3) among the most improved teams this offseason.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Key additions: QB Kirk Cousins, WR Darnell Mooney, TE Charlie Woerner

This is a short list of additions, but one of the names will likely go down as the biggest free agent signing of this offseason. Cousins is recovering from a torn right Achilles but is expected to be ready for Week 1. He was playing some of his best football prior to the injury in October, ranking first in the league in touchdown passes and second in passing yards.

He will lead a new-look offense, with coordinator Zac Robinson calling plays and WR Drake London, RB Bijan Robinson, TE Kyle Pitts and speedy ex-Chicago No. 1 WR Mooney as his top targets. Atlanta also returns all five starters from one of the league’s top offensive lines, which sets it up for a big offensive breakout.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the players responsible for 76% of Atlanta’s 2023 defensive snaps remained on the roster — the fifth-highest in the league — which is a good sign for a unit that ranked 12th in EPA last season. It also explains why the Falcons have been quiet on that side of the ball this week.

The Jaguars replaced Gabe Davis with Calvin Ridley, re-signed Josh Allen and Erza Cleveland while trading for Mac Jones. I’d hardly consider that more improvement than going from the worst quarterback situation in the league to one of the best.

The same could be said for the Commanders. Yes, they’re expected to add a quarterback with the No. 2 pick, but that’s certainly not more of an immediate improvement than Cousins. Washington did add Frankie Luvu and Tyler Biadasz in free agency, but again, nobody experienced the kind of instantaneous improvement that the Falcons did.

Atlanta didn’t have half of a dozen exciting acquisitions like Houston. Unlike the Texans, the Falcons didn’t have a quarterback and had to improve the position. It’s hard to argue with getting the best option on the market.

I think an argument could be made the Falcons improved more than anyone because of how important the quarterback position is in the NFL.

Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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