Atlanta’s 2020 free-agent class was mostly… a disaster. I praised picking up Darqueze Dennard on a 1 year, $990k contract, and he may prove to be the best signing of the bunch. Let’s break down each guy individually. I’ll only be grading new additions, so extensions like Neasman, Davison, and Keith Smith will be omitted. I’ll also be leaving off guys who barely/didn’t see the field like Khari Lee. I’ll be considering the implications of the contract along with performance for grading — the bigger the deal, the more of a knock bad play gets you.
Laquon Treadwell: B-
2020 Stats: 6 catches, 49 yards, 2 TDs
2020 PFF Ranking: N/A (68.5)
Contract: 1 year, $910,000
Maybe a B- is too generous for a guy who didn’t play much at all and didn’t even qualify for PFF. However, Treadwell was good when he DID play, and he was insanely cheap. There isn’t a lot of good on this list, so maybe I’m just being generous. It’s mostly downhill from here. Treadwell was never the same after his injury at Ole Miss, which may have lead to the bust tag he’s been given in the NFL. Injuries led to him getting some playing time in Week 14, and he was good in limited action. Technically, he was the 8th highest rated player on Atlanta’s entire offense. I wrote about Treadwell getting some more opportunities, and I’d love to have him back in 2021 as depth on a cheap deal.
Justin McCray: D+
2020 Stats: N/A
2020 PFF Ranking: N/A (54.8)
Contract: 1 year, $1.075 million
McCray wasn’t awful, and he made two starts for the Falcons as a swing offensive lineman. He graded out higher than Matt Gono and ALMOST higher than James Carpenter, but he didn’t really do anything special for Atlanta. Not being able to seize a role on an offensive line that was marred by injuries and inconsistency can’t get you anything higher than a D+ for me.
Darqueze Dennard: B+
2020 Stats: 1 INT, 5 PBU
2020 PFF Ranking: 46th of 124
Contract: 1 year, $990,000
B+ may also be generous, but Dennard provided some serious value for the price tag. His injury issues are probably the only thing that kept him out of A- territory. As the second best corner on the team — I wouldn’t think twice about bringing him back in 2021 for a little bit more money.
Todd Gurley: D-
2020 Stats: 678 rushing yards, 164 receiving yards, 3.5 YPA, 9 rushing TDs, 0 receiving TDs.
2020 PFF Ranking: 69th of 70
Contract: 1 year, $5.5 million
I struggled with this one a bit. Dirk Koetter is allergic to running the ball, but Gurley was just too bad in critical situations for me to rank him any higher. His contract being so short is the only thing keeping him from getting an F. He had a career-worst year, and bringing him back to Atlanta is out of the question.
Dante Fowler Jr: F
2020 Stats: 3 sacks, 1 FF, 4 TFL
2020 PFF Ranking: 109th of 115
Contract: 3 years, $85 million
No way around it; this was one of the worst signings in franchise history. Dante Fowler Jr. set career lows in sacks, TFLs, and forced fumbles. He was a non-factor, and his horrific PFF grade is a testament to how little impact he had. He was equally as bad against the run as he was at creating pressure. I wrote here about how Fowler is likely to be cut after June 1st, and luckily the Falcons can recoup a little money.