ESPN projects Falcons to double dip in QB market this offseason

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The Falcons have their staff in place, with Raheem Morris as head coach, Zac Robinson as offensive coordinator, Jimmy Lake as defensive coordinator, and Marquice Williams as special teams coach.

Terry Fontenot was kept on as general manager. He and Morris have a tall task ahead of them because Arthur Blank expects his team to win this season. The roster is in a good position, not a great one. There are holes that must be addressed.

The Falcons need pass rushers, like any club, particularly at the edge. Zac Robinson also needs more receivers to pair with Drake London. A.J. Terrell needs a running mate, and at the very least, Clark Phillips III needs competition and the position needs depth. As always, the Falcons could use some bodies along the trenches.

However, none of that matters, including who the head coach and offensive coordinator is, unless Atlanta finds a quarterback this offseason. It’s the most important position in sports, and the Falcons quarterback play last season held the team back and ultimately cost Arthur Smith his job.

I see some fans suggesting that Zac Robinson can revive Desmond Ridder’s career, but I’m here to tell you that the starting quarterback for the Falcons in 2024 isn’t currently on the roster.

ESPN’s Michael Rothstein agrees.¬†In the beat writer’s projection for the position, Rothstein has the Falcons double dipping in the quarterback market this offseason, landing a veteran free agent in Russell Wilson and drafting a prospect in Bo Nix.

Rothstein’s contract for Wilson is extremely palatable for a starting-caliber quarterback:

The new contract with Atlanta: Three years, $36 million, with $20 million guaranteed. I would frontload the contract with $15 million fully guaranteed in 2024, $12 million in 2025 ($5 million fully guaranteed) and $9 million in 2026. We’d include NLTBE incentives (classified as not likely to be earned) each year of $1 million for an NFC South title with Wilson playing 80% of the regular-season snaps, $500,000 for each playoff win in which he plays 75% of the snaps, an extra $1.5 million if he reaches the Super Bowl while playing in 75% of the playoff snaps and an extra $2.5 million if he wins a Super Bowl while playing 75% of the snaps.

Rothstein’s goal with frontloading the deal is clear. The Falcons would start Russell Wilson in 2024 with the option of moving off of him in 2025 and 2026 in favor of the younger Bo Nix. Rothstein expands on the fit between Russ and the Falcons:

How he fits with the Falcons: The Falcons learned this season what below-average quarterback play can do to a franchise’s playoff hopes. Owner Arthur Blank and CEO Rich McKay made it clear the plan is to win with this roster, and Wilson is the best option out there and has the most experience. The team around him would take pressure off Wilson, with playmakers Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Drake London and Kyle Pitts all set for big roles in 2024. And the contract terms also allow for a fairly painless separation if it doesn’t work out. I considered a Fields trade, too, but here Atlanta retains its second-round pick and gets a quarterback upgrade on a decent deal for coach Raheem Morris. — Michael Rothstein, Falcons reporter

I don’t hate the fit, especially considering the options in free agency. In this exercise, the Vikings and Buccaneers hand Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield contract extensions, so Wilson is about the only worthwhile free agent option. It’s not the quarterback many are hoping for, but it might become a reality depending on how the offseason shakes out. For the future, Rothstein has the Falcons investing a second-round pick in Bo Nix.

74. Falcons: Bo Nix, Oregon

This is pure value at this point in the draft for the Falcons, who could remake their quarterback room under their new coaching staff. With Wilson signed as the locked-in starter for anywhere from one to three seasons, Nix can be developed. Nix has shown improvement every year in his career, completing 77% of his passes this season with 45 touchdown throws and three interceptions. So he is worth taking a chance on at this point in the draft with the understanding he and Desmond Ridder could battle for the No. 2 spot. — Michael Rothstein, Falcons reporter

I don’t hate taking a quarterback in the draft as well as signing a free agent, but this combination doesn’t thrill me. If one of the top three signal callers — Caleb Williams, Drake Maye, or Jayden Daniels — isn’t available for the Falcons in the first round, J.J. McCarthy in the second round would be preferable, but in this scenario, Michael Penix and McCarthy are off the board at the Falcons’ 74th pick.

Russell Wilson and Bo Nix probably isn’t what many Falcons fans want this offseason, but the options may not be as robust as once thought.

Photographer: Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire
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