Falcons best offseason move according to The Athletic

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Since the new regime took over in Atlanta, the front office has had a strict approach to free agency — short-term, team-friendly deals for bottom-of-the-barrel free agents. It really isn’t a choice, though. Terry Fontenot inherited a mess of a salary cap, and he’s been working the last two years to untie all that Thomas Dimitroff did.

In two offseasons, the Falcons traded away two of the greatest players in franchise history and their bloated contracts in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. They also parted ways with Dante Fowler Jr.’s overpriced deal and currently sit with a league-leading $63.2 million in dead money.

Last offseason, Fontenot handed out one multi-year deal to Mike Davis, but this spring and summer have resulted in more because of the financial flexibility on the horizon in 2023. Cordarrelle Patterson, Casey Hayward, and Marcus Mariota all agreed to two-year pacts.

With such few cap dollars spent in free agency, it is difficult to choose the best signing. However, The Athletic’s Josh Kendall believes Mariota was the best offseason move.

The Falcons traded Matt Ryan to the Colts on the morning of March 21 in a messy end to a 14-year relationship. By the end of the business day, Atlanta had signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota. Not only did the quick move allow the Falcons to immediately turn the narrative surrounding the most important position on the field, but it also gave them a cheap veteran option who is already familiar with head coach Arthur Smith’s system thanks to their shared time in Tennessee. Mariota won’t make Atlanta better than Ryan did, but he’s universally liked and will provide some stability in what could be a bumpy season.

Sometimes the best offseason move is a free agent signing, draft selection, or even parting ways with a player. Mariota is a fine choice because what Kendall said is true. The former No. 2 overall pick is a stand-up veteran that will give the Falcons somewhat competent quarterback play while also mentoring the younger Falcons. Still, I’d argue the best offseason move was trading Matt Ryan away.

It needed to be done. It was time to turn the page on that era of Falcons football, and the longer they held onto him, the harder it’d be to trade him away. It probably should’ve been done a year ago, but at least it was done. Now, the compensation for Ryan (third-rounder) was disappointing, but the actual move itself was incredibly pivotal for a regime trying to establish itself.

Photographer: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

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