The biggest signing in free agency Terry Fontenot made last offseason was a two-year, $5 million contract that brought Mike Davis back to his home state, and it was also the only multi-year deal handed out.
The Falcons just aren’t in a position financially to make any big splashes in free agency. Steve Wyche most recently said that Atlanta would make cap-saving moves to become “mid-market” shoppers in free agency. Those moves included potentially extending Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews, and Matt Ryan while also trading Calvin Ridley away.
Once again, the Falcons will be looking for value on the open market. Fontenot wants to use the same strategy of signing one-year, prove-it deals this offseason. After signing a one-year, $3 million deal, Cordarrelle Patterson over-performed and broke out in his ninth season; he led the team in rushing (618 yards) and total touchdowns (11) while racking up the third-most receiving yards (548). The Falcons’ investment in Patterson can only be seen as a resounding success for the front office, coaching staff, and Patterson himself.
The ability to find diamonds in the rough is something Fontenot was highly touted for in New Orleans, but one free agent success isn’t going to be enough. Here are four potential free agents with high upside the Falcons could sign on a similar deal as Patterson.
Almost 30 years old now, he’s a few years removed from his three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 2016-2018. Clowney is still a good player and has become a rental option for many teams lately. Most recently, it was with the Browns in 2021. He totaled nine sacks and 19 quarterback hits in 14 games and was a plus run defender.
Dissly made an immediate impact during his rookie season. He recorded 105 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut, but never recaptured that magic. Dissly finished his first couple of seasons on the Injured Reserve list and became a depth piece in Seattle. He is a tough blocker and could be an excellent TE2 for the Falcons.
Five-time Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry is seemingly on his way to becoming a cap casualty in Cleveland. Landry is set to make over $15 million in 2022, with a cap hit north of $16 million. He’s dealt with injuries the past couple of seasons, but he’s still one of the most viable slot receivers in football. Landry will be looking to compete for a Super Bowl, I’m sure, but he might take a one-year, prove-it deal to stick it to the Browns by showing he’s still one of the league’s best pass catchers.
Adam Schefter reported Friday morning the Cowboys are likely to release Cooper to save cap dollars, and he could be the perfect candidate for a one-year deal in Atlanta. Cooper hasn’t quite lived up to his massive contract, but he’s still one of the best route runners in football. He can be incredibly productive with Matt Ryan, which could springboard him into his next multi-year deal.
Photo: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
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