Falcons work in free agency receives high mark from national outlet

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The Falcons have been one of the most active teams this offseason. With a mountain of cap space, Atlanta has upgraded its roster in several areas, most notably the defensive line, which has long been a weak point of the team.

Despite the improvements, national pundits aren’t impressed for various reasons. Some believe the Falcons overpaid some free agents; others are pessimistic about the club’s offseason because they refuse to pursue Lamar Jackson.

In reality, the Falcons have dramatically improved a roster that went 7-10 last year after being pegged to be the worst team in the league by some media outlets. Thankfully, Matt Verderame of Sports Illustrated has some semblance of shame and gives credit where credit is due:

Notable additions: S Jessie Bates, QB Taylor Heinicke, DT David Onyemata, OLB Kaden Elliss, DE Calais Campbell

Notable departures: T Chuma Edoga, QB Marcus Mariota

It was a great March for the Falcons, which upgraded significantly on defense while adding a quality veteran to the quarterback room in Heinicke. While those moves alone won’t get Atlanta to the playoffs, it crystallizes the draft board for general manager Terry Fontenot, who suddenly has far fewer holes to fill.

Grade: A

Now, the fact that he’s so adamant about the Falcons not getting to the playoffs is a little bothersome, especially considering how terrible the division is. The NFC South is up for grabs, despite some believing the Saints, with newly acquired quarterback Derek Carr, will run away with it.

The Falcons and Panthers are expected to win around 7.5 games, while New Orleans’ win total was set at 9.5. I don’t see it. Dennis Allen isn’t a good head coach; Saints fans don’t even believe in him. Moreover, the roster isn’t nearly as talented as it was a couple of years ago. The top end talent is still apparent — Alvin Kamara, Cam Jordan, Marshon Lattimore, Tyrann Mathieu, Ryan Ramcyzk, etc. — but it lacks the depth that made it one of the best rosters in the league.

The Falcons might not look like it, but they’re in a position to seriously compete for the division. I’m not saying they’ll win it, but to say they won’t get into the playoffs this early is naive.

Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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