Lots of teams with gobs of cap space made some substantial moves yesterday, and some of the most significant names of this free-agent class began switching helmets. Corey Linsley, John Johnson III, and Joe Thuney were some of my favorite options, but they received massive contracts that Atlanta likely couldn’t afford. Unless some restructuring has gone on under the table, the Falcons still currently sit over the cap by a few million. That’s easily fixable, and most of the names on this list won’t break the bank. Even with a flurry of signings yesterday, there’s plenty of talent still available.
QB Tyrod Taylor
TE Mo Alie-Cox
PFF projects Jamaal Williams to get two years and $6 million, which is a no-brainer for a 25-year-old running back who is amazing in pass protection, averages over four yards per carry and over seven yards per catch. He may not have the explosiveness to be a true feature back, but he’s an absolute bargain at $3 million AAV.
We’ve talked about Mo Alie-Cox a lot, but his exceptional blocking combined with his athletic profile makes him a ball of clay that Arthur Smith could mold into a real weapon. He immediately gives Atlanta a lot of looks in two tight end sets as a blocker and a threat in the pass game.
David Andrews is a guy I don’t mind handing a substantial contract. That is, if the Falcons decide to do some restructuring to create space. Andrews is very balanced in pass protection, in the run game, and rarely commits penalties. He’s also been dependable and durable throughout his career; I’d be just fine giving him the projected three years and $18 million.
Gabe Jackson is a massive man, and while he may have trouble adjusting to Arthur Smith’s scheme (he weights 335 pounds and has issues with run blocking), he has been pretty good for the Raiders in pass protection and should come fairly cheap. Forrest Lamp hasn’t been great in Los Angeles, but I think he still has some upside as a swing guard battling for a starting role during camp. If the Falcons go hunting for a bargain, he makes a lot of sense on a cheap deal.
IDL Jurrell Casey
IDL Kawaan Short
EDGE Haason Reddick
EDGE Jadeveon Clowney
EDGE Ryan Kerrigan
EDGE Jordan Jenkins
EDGE Carlos Dunlap
I love Jurrell Casey as a player, and if there’s no hard feelings between him and Dean Pees, he would be perfect next to Grady Jarrett in an attacking 3-4. Haason Reddick is projected to get one year and $8.5 million, but after seeing how edge rushers were paid yesterday, I think he blows past that by a lot. He’s one of the few premium options left on the market. Jordan Jenkins was pretty solid in 2020, and he may be worth a lottery ticket signing on a cheap deal. A quick note on Jadeveon Clowney — with his current knee injury, he may not sign until later into the process.
CB Desmond King
CB Mike Hilton
CB Troy Hill
CB Levi Wallace
CB Brian Poole
I’d be over the moon with any of the top three guys. Desmond King has safety flexibility and is one of, if not the best slot defender in the NFL. If he clocks in at his $5.8 million AAV price tag, he’s an absolute steal. Mike Hilton is a great slot defender, and Malcolm Butler is still a very good cover corner. Malik Hooker makes a ton of sense on a cheap deal; he is very effective when he’s on the football field and an absolute ballhawk. Even if he doesn’t stay healthy, he’s well worth his projected one year, $2 million contract as a lottery ticket. Kareem Jackson is aging, but he was excellent in 2020. I imagine Atlanta will be very interested in him as a bridge safety.
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