Falcons GM comments on pursuing Deshaun Watson last offseason

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For all of his faults, Arthur Blank is a good NFL owner. Falcons fans can cry all they want, but there are far worse circumstances — i.e., Dan Snyder.

However, his biggest mistake won’t be committing to Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, or Dan Quinn for too long; it will always be the pursuit of Deshaun Watson. Despite being a year ago, Watson’s destructive wake will be highlighted forever. The Falcons might not be featured, but they’ll be mentioned.

The Atlanta media thrashed Arthur Smith, Terry Fontenot, and Arthur Blank about their interest level sometime after the news broke.

One reporter asked Fontenot whether he thought the Falcons were getting Watson. “There was never a time that we felt that we were going to have that player here,” Fontenot said, who refused even to name Watson.

Blank infamously turned to the same damage control, downplaying the situation, saying the team spoke with Watson on a 75-minute phone call, and that was it. If Watson had decided he wanted to play in Atlanta, “We would have done a lot more work. But we did do work,” Blank said.

The reality is much different. We know how close the Falcons were to landing Watson, and that “surface level” interest wasn’t that at all. “Most within the Falcons’ building assumed Watson was theirs.”

The Falcons alienated a portion of the fan base with this decision-making and probably turned away some forever. They will have to acknowledge that before the wounds heal themselves, but a year isn’t long enough apparently because Fontenot is still reluctant to make any stance.

“There’s no reason to look back at it,” he said, via Josh Kendall of The Athletic.

Fontenot went further to say he can’t condemn the Browns for handing Watson a record-breaking, unprecedented fully guaranteed deal.

“We will always do what is best for our team, and we won’t let what the other 31 teams do affect us. We just won’t,” Fontenot said. “You can’t judge another team because you are not in their circumstance and you don’t see all the other variables in place. You can always criticize, but at the end of the day you just don’t know.”

The Falcons leadership knows how to play politics. They’re a PR’s dream because they rarely say the wrong thing. Before it’s all said and done, one of these individuals will come out about the details and feelings of pursuing Deshaun Watson.

Photographer: Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire
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