Falcons bolster receiver room with former second-round pick


After an invitation to try out, the Falcons are signing free agent wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to bolster the weakest position group on the roster.

In a corresponding move, the club moved Jared Bernhardt to the reserve/retired list. It’s a shame too, because he had an absolutely stellar story as a former Tewaaraton Award winner turned football player. He showed a substantial connection with Desmond Ridder in last year’s preseason, so there was some expectation he’d have a crack at making the final 53-man roster.

Instead, Arcega-Whiteside will get that opportunity. The former 57th overall pick from the 2019 NFL Draft hauled in 63 passes for over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final season at Stanford, but never lived up to expectations.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pound pass catcher was heralded for his ability to play above the rim but rarely found success once he entered the league. Arcega-Whiteside caught 10 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown in his rookie season, but that would be his best year in terms of production. He recorded just four catches for 85 yards in 2020 and two catches for 36 yards in 2021.

He’s only 26 years old, so there is time to make a potential comeback, but Falcons fans shouldn’t hold their breath. Though his skill set is exactly what the Falcons look for in the position, he hasn’t stuck for a reason. Unless he’s a significant contributor in the third phase of the game, I doubt he will make the final 53-man roster.

Atlanta’s receiver room is by far the thinnest position group. Outside of Drake London, there aren’t many inspiring options. Scotty Miller and Mack Hollins are likely to assume a bulk of the WR2 and WR3 snaps at this point, but it’s clear that the Falcons aren’t comfortable with what they currently have at wideout.

Don’t be surprised if the Falcons add a receiver around August when final cuts around the league flood the free-agent market with players. Atlanta isn’t as reliant on the position as others, but the club does expect a contribution on special teams, so that will play a factor in whoever they target.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire


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