The new league year kicked off at 4 PM today, and the Falcons have 33-year-old backup tight end Lee Smith to show for it after a trade with the Buffalo Bills sent a future seventh-round pick for the predominantly blocking tight end. While other teams snatched up the upper echelon free agents during the legal tampering period, the Falcons played the waiting game. This could obviously pay dividends, but it’s not what the fanbase was hoping for after Matt Ryan‘s contract was restructured to give Atlanta some breathing room. Dante Fowler Jr and Tyeler Davison have taken pay cuts, but the Falcons have yet to do anything notable with the money. So how can the Falcons shake off the slow start and get some impact players?
The first order of business is to max restructure Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and possibly Julio Jones. These three alone would give the Falcons about an extra $22.7 million to spend before even considering Fowler’s pay cut since we don’t have specifics yet on his reduction amount. The salary cap should rise significantly in 2022, especially if the reported television deal goes through. Regardless, it may be too little too late to even spend all of that money.
The best rumor we’ve gotten so far is that Atlanta is reportedly in on David Andrews, and I listed him as one of my top five favorite free agent targets for a reason — in 320 pass-blocking snaps in 2020, he only allowed 12 pressures and two sacks. Andrews’ projected contract is for three years, $6 million per season. That is an easily affordable figure and an instant Alex Mack replacement to help solidify this offensive line.
The edge rusher market is almost totally shot. The names available do not inspire much, and it stung to see Carolina scoop up Haason Reddick for peanuts. Now, the Falcons will have to pick out of the scrap heap. I think a guy like Jordan Jenkins makes sense, but other than that, I’m not a huge fan of names like Jadeveon Clowney, Aldon Smith, Olivier Vernon, or Melvin Ingram unless they come cheap.
Running back isn’t looking much better. I would have loved to have inked a deal with Jamaal Williams for the two years and $7.5 million that he signed for, but like most bargain running back options, he’s off the table. I don’t want to pay big bucks to Chris Carson, Kenyan Drake, or James Conner. Guys like Mike Davis, Le’Veon Bell, James White, and Tevin Coleman may provide the best value for Atlanta at this point.
I’m genuinely shocked the Falcons haven’t addressed the defensive backfield. Luckily for them, there are still a few good options available going into Thursday. If Desmond King is truly available at $6 million per season over three years, he’s a must-have to me. I’d even pay him a little more than that. Safeties like Malik Hooker, Kareem Jackson, Duron Harmon, Tashaun Gipson, and Xavier Woods would all be solid, and I like Brian Poole, Troy Hill, Malcolm Butler, and Adoree Jackson as cornerback options.
It makes no sense to restructure Matt Ryan and then sit on your hands. Hopefully, some moves are coming soon because Falcons fans are starting to get stir crazy — and rightfully so.