Falcons: Which notable impending free agents need to be re-signed?

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The NFL season is coming to a close, and the Falcons have a lot of difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks. Not only will trade rumors likely be swirling around key players, but the Falcons will have limited cap space again thanks in part to Julio Jones‘ dead cap hit of $15.5 million. Still, there are some contributors from this season that have earned another ride with this team. It’s difficult with the Falcons having a thin roster and limited money, but there are some clear upgrades at important positions in free agency. If you want to read about how much cap space the Falcons are expected to have, you can find that here.

 

Likely Gone:

EDGE Dante Fowler Jr.

TE Hayden Hurst

S Duron Harmon

QB Josh Rosen

QB AJ McCarron

EDGE Steven Means

Some of these guys may come back, but it will all depend on what they’re willing to sign for. Regardless, the Falcons made it clear they were in an evaluation year, and nobody in this list did anything major to stand out. If the Falcons decide that they still want a veteran presence in the secondary ahead of Jaylinn Hawkins and Richie Grant, Duron Harmon would likely come back if he can be had on a cheap deal. Hayden Hurst had his fifth-year option declined and Dante Fowler Jr. had some of his contract years voided, so unless they are interested in a prove-it deal, I don’t see either one coming back to Atlanta.

 

On The Bubble:

S Erik Harris

OL Matt Gono

WR Olamide Zaccheaus

WR Russell Gage

With all of these guys, their place on this roster will likely come down to cost. I think Erik Harris will be back on a similar vet minimum deal. The team obviously liked Matt Gono enough to place a second round tender on him last offseason, but he didn’t play due to injury. Still, they have little depth on the offensive line and may be wary of handing him a contract. Zaccheaus and Gage are at positions of need, but it’s going to be difficult to hand them any significant money. I think at the right price, Atlanta brings at least one of them back.

 

Keepers:

K Younghoe Koo

LB Foye Oluokun

RB Cordarrelle Patterson

CB Isaiah Oliver

CB Fabian Moreau

LS Josh Harris

TE Lee Smith

Alright, this is where things get a little easier. Younghoe Koo is a no-brainer, he’s a real weapon for this team. Foye Oluokon is now the best linebacker on the roster, and if the Falcons can trade Deion Jones, handing him a multi-year deal becomes easy. Cordarrelle Patterson needs a lifetime extension, and he has expressed interest in returning to Atlanta. Isaiah Oliver was playing well before injury, and he may have found his role as a slot corner. Fabian Moreau isn’t a complete liability, and if the Falcons go with a corner in round one of the draft, he would make a great cheap third cornerback. Josh Harris is a Pro Bowl long snapper, easy decision. Lee Smith is a bit on the bubble, but he’s an excellent blocker and the Falcons gave up a pick for him. He shouldn’t break the bank.

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