Falcons: What to make of Arthur Blank’s comments on the Deshaun Watson saga

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The backlash from pursuing Deshaun Watson is still coming for the Falcons brass. Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot took their thrashing from the media last week; some of their answers were jarring, to say the least.

One reporter asked Fontenot whether he thought the Falcons were getting Watson. “There was never a time that we felt that we were going to have that player here,” Fontenot said, who refused to even name Watson.

On Tuesday, it was Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s turn. When members of the media pushed Blank on the details of the organization’s interest level in Watson, the founder of Home Depot turned to the same damage control, downplaying the situation.

The facts suggest otherwise. We know how close the Falcons were to landing Watson. According to ESPN, he corresponded with Leonard Fournette and Jarvis Landry over FaceTime about joining forces in Atlanta.

Here’s an illustration of how close the Falcons were to getting quarterback Deshaun Watson: Several sources say Watson corresponded with free agents Jarvis Landry and Leonard Fournette about playing together in Atlanta, very possibly over FaceTime. As of Thursday night, the feeling was Watson expected to go to Atlanta. And Atlanta thought it had Watson, who was considering the pass-catching weapons who could join him there — until Cleveland came with a deal that would be nearly impossible to refuse.

What’s even more peculiar is the reports that the Texans weren’t letting teams meet with Watson unless they had a trade proposal from the corresponding team. So, we know the Falcons had a deal in principle, thought they were landing him, then lost out in the late hours of the night after Cleveland offered a record-breaking $230 million fully guaranteed contract, which supposedly wasn’t the reason Watson chose the Browns. He even suggested that he didn’t know about the deal until after he chose Cleveland over Atlanta.

I just don’t buy a man as successful in business as Blank failing to require his staff to do their due diligence. A smart owner would never enter into a situation as futile as Watson’s without having the most transparent picture. Rich McKay may have kept Blank out of the loop of all the investigations to keep him clean, but I know the fans are not getting the whole story from the Falcons.

Photographer: David John Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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