Until the Falcons have a franchise quarterback, it will be a focus in the offseason. The club has the second most cap space in the league and a roster littered with holes. There’s not a single position group that doesn’t need either starting-caliber talent or depth pieces, including quarterback, so it should be an eventful offseason. Desmond Ridder showed poise and grew each outing but didn’t do enough to lock up the starting job in 2022, regardless of all the support from the team.
“We’ve been really clear with how we feel about Desmond Ridder and what he’s done to this point in his career,” Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said. “His makeup, and just the way he’s handled every role that he’s been in and what he did over the last four games of the season. He dealt with adversity. He got off the mat. He kept fighting. Desmond has done some good things and we know he’s going to continue to improve this offseason.”
There’s no doubt that the Falcons will add to the group, which has now been confirmed by team leadership. “We’re never going to put ourselves in a corner,” Fontenot said. “We’re always going to leave every door open.” Leaving the door open could mean any number of things.
Atlanta has been mentioned as a potential landing spot for several veterans. Derek Carr is the most readily available, but the Falcons haven’t even met with the free agent, so that seems unlikely. Lamar Jackson is another popular potential target and grows more likely the deeper we get into the offseason. It makes sense for several reasons, despite there being nothing more than speculation.
Last offseason, Arthur Blank rolled out the red carpet for Deshaun Watson; one would expect them to be in the running for another elite quarterback. Lamar Jackson also fits Arthur Smith’s offense seamlessly. There is a roadblock to all of this, though. The Falcons would have to give up significant compensation to acquire Jackson and then allocate a large number of funds to an extension.
They seemingly balked at matching the Browns’ offer of a record-breaking fully guaranteed contract for Deshaun Watson; it’s possible they would with Jackson too. Still, it’s undeniably a possibility at this point. Another scenario could unfold where a quarterback prospect emerges in April’s draft.
“Whether it’s the eighth pick or it’s somewhere else in the draft we could definitely bring in a quarterback,” Fontenot said. “We’re not going to box ourselves in and say something that we’re not going to do… We want to bring in good players. So, we could bring in a veteran. We could bring in a guy with experience. We could bring in a guy with no experience. But we want to add to the room.”
It is a highly touted draft class. Bryce Young, CJ Stroud, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson are all potential options for the Falcons. They would have to trade up to land some of those prospects, but it’s certainly possible. Young and Stroud are the most tantalizing of that group and would have to be considered homerun acquisitions.
However, the most likely outcome, in my opinion, is the team signing a backup-caliber free agent quarterback. Gardner Minshew, Taylor Heinicke, and Mitchell Trubisky are all either available or expected to hit the open market and make sense.
Minshew is an electric personality who can provide a spark if needed. He was amazing against the Cowboys late in the season but regressed to the mean the following week against the Saints. He’s better suited as a backup who can play in a pinch and provide that spark. Minshew is average in most facets of the position — arm strength, accuracy, decision-making, and playmaking.
Heinicke would be my prediction of this group. He’s the most athletic of them and gave the Commanders a real shot to get into the postseason, but Carson Wentz made sure that didn’t come to fruition. With Heinicke, Washington went 5-3-1 while he completed 62% of his passes with 12 touchdowns and six interceptions.
The most likely outcome has to be Desmond Ridder under center in Week 1, though. I would put the Falcons chances of landing Lamar Jackson or one of the elite quarterback prospects in the draft at 10%, with a 90% chance a veteran free agent comes into camp to compete with Ridder for the starting job.
You must log in to post a comment.