The Falcons may not have had the money to shop in any isle this free agency period, but with what they did have, they spent on the offensive side of the ball.
Jamon Brown and James Carpenter, two gargantuan offensive guards that played in New York last season, headlined the class. They bring some added meat to the interior of Atlanta’s offensive line that has previously featured smaller, more athletic lineman that fit their zone-blocking scheme. Both Brown and Carpenter are expected to be starters in 2019, but nothing is guaranteed with Wes Schweitzer and Brandon Fusco remaining on the roster.
The Falcons also added tight-end Luke Stocker, who played under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter back in Tampa Bay and spent last season with Mike Mularkey, the Falcons new tight-ends coach, in Tennessee. Stocker isn’t much of a receiving option but should provide even more of a boost to the Falcons running game which has been the focus of free agency. The addition of Stocker did not stop Atlanta from retaining Logan Paulsen as well, adding another blocking tight end to the mix.
The latest move by Thomas Dimitroff was inking running back Kenjon Barner to a one-year deal. Barner has not been viewed as much more than a kick/punt returner over his six-year NFL career. He will take over the reins in that area and will have the opportunity to earn the third-string running back role behind Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith.
Coming into the offseason, the Falcons needed to patch up several areas on offense: a couple of guards, an offensive tackle, tight end, wide receiver and running back. These free agency moves take care of most of those needs, with offensive tackle being the only glaring hole heading into the draft. The Falcons currently own nine selections, and their defense which ranked 28th overall last year will be the primary focus.
Atlanta desperately needs to address their defensive line – both on the inside and outside. Offensive tackle, EDGE, and a defensive tackle should be their first three picks in no particular order, and it should not shock anyone if they double dip on the edge later in the draft. Atlanta will also look to add depth at cornerback after releasing Robert Alford and Brian Poole, and they could use one more linebacker with Duke Riley failing to pan out, and De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end. Expect the Falcons to use at least five, if not more, of their draft picks on defense in hopes of returning to their peak form of 2017.