The Falcons will be in the market for a quarterback this offseason. Whether the club targets an elite signal caller or a backup, Atlanta will have to add to the position group. Marcus Mariota is still technically under contract, but I fully expect the Falcons to part ways with the veteran to save $12 million against the salary cap. One of those potential targets could be Derek Carr.
Gilberto Manzano of Sports Illustrated named Atlanta as the third-most attractive free agent destination for Carr — above Houston and Washington, and behind Indianapolis and New York.
3) Atlanta Falcons
Why Carr fits: Every team in the NFC South is searching for a quarterback, but only the Falcons can offer Carr cap-space flexibility for a lucrative contract and instant roster upgrades through free agency. Also, the Falcons have two cornerstone offensive playmakers in second-year receiver Drake London and standout tight end Kyle Pitts. If that’s not enticing enough, Falcons coach Arthur Smith is known for his creative offensive designs and has a track record of reviving quarterback careers—just ask the Titans’ Ryan Tannehill.
Why he doesn’t: The Falcons’ defense struggled in 2022 and lacked talent outside of defensive end Grady Jarrett and cornerback A.J. Terrell. Atlanta only had 21 sacks last season, second-worst in the NFL, and recorded 17 takeaways, tied for fifth-worst. Carr playing behind an inconsistent defense isn’t a winning recipe. It might also be concerning that Smith didn’t get much from Matt Ryan in ’21 and Marcus Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder last season. Carr, however, would provide an upgrade at quarterback.
Derek Carr doesn’t exactly fit the profile of Arthur Smith’s ‘mobile’ quarterback mold, like Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder, but he’s deceptively athletic. He’s certainly more mobile than Matt Ryan. Smith has shown two very different-looking offenses that accentuated his quarterback’s differing skillset, so there’s no reason Smith couldn’t marry his system to Carr; it just might not be his preference.
The Falcons aren’t really in a position from a roster-building perspective to pay a mercenary quarterback. The timelines don’t shake out. The Panthers make much more sense. Carolina’s roster is actually very talented, and Frank Reich is one of the better offensive minds in the league; they could make some noise if they land a competent quarterback.
I think if the Falcons can’t land an elite talent like Lamar Jackson, the team should just bring in a backup-caliber player to compete with Desmond Ridder in training camp and serve as a mentor to the former third-rounder.
Photographer: Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire
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