Falcons had free agent interest several star WRs, including a divison rival

NFL: JAN 03 Falcons at Buccaneers

The Falcons offseason was headlined by Kirk Cousins and Michael Penix Jr.

The club ultimately fired Arthur Smith because of Desmond Ridder’s shortcomings. The new Steelers offensive coordinator put his faith in the wrong player, and it cost him his job.

Raheem Morris replaced him and immediately invested more in the position in one offseason than his predecessor did in three years. They gave Cousins $180 million in free agency and used their top pick on Penix, potentially solidifying the quarterback position for the next decade-plus.

Though it was the biggest positional need, it wasn’t the only one. The Falcons needed to bolster the first and third levels of the defense, as well as the receiver position.

At the end of the offseason, Atlanta is relying on internal candidates at the cornerback position and invested three draft picks in the defensive front. Their second-biggest free agent addition came in the form of Darnell Mooney, but he was far from the only wideout that the Falcons were interested in.

“We had some free agents – they were the same free agents everybody was after,” Falcons receivers coach Ike Hilliard said, via Daniel Flick of Sports Illustrated. “There’s a Hollywood Brown, there’s a Tyler Boyd, there’s a Darnell Mooney; we can go on and on. Mike Evans was out there for a second. There are plenty of guys I can bring up.”

Obviously, the one that stands out here is Mike Evans. The Bucs star has been terrorizing the Falcons for a decade and is well on his way to the Hall of Fame. Acquiring a player of his caliber would’ve been massive, but to steal him from a division rival would’ve been even sweeter. In reality, there was no chance Evans was leaving Tampa Bay for Atlanta, unless the Falcons handsomely overpaid, and even then, I’m not sure that would’ve been enough.

The Falcons ended up with Darnell Mooney over Hollywood Brown and Tyler Boyd, and I love it. Brown is what he is at this point, and he’s not physically capable of shouldering the load offensively. Boyd never got out of the shadow of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins but is still a more than respectable WR2 in this league.

I just think Mooney’s upside is higher, especially with a quarterback like Kirk Cousins, who will be the best signal caller he’s ever played with.

Photographer: Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire

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