I’ve already covered the quarterbacks, and while that position group is pretty straightforward, the Falcons do have an interesting situation in their backfield going into 2022. Mike Davis is a cut candidate, and Cordarrelle Patterson may have played his way into a big contract from the Falcons or somebody else. Regardless, let’s take a look at a few options in free agency if the Falcons decide to bring in another body to bolster the ground game. Articles covering other position groups are listed below:
7. James Conner – Arizona Cardinals
After a few strong seasons in Pittsburgh followed by a dud in 2020, Conner signed a “prove it” deal with the Cardinals, and he seemed to do just that. Conner’s 3.7 yards per carry is a bit concerning, but he did average 10.1 yards per catch. That sounds a lot like what the Falcons brought Mike Davis in for, and I think you’d get similar results from the two.
6. Melvin Gordon – Denver Broncos
Gordon and the Falcons have been linked before, and while Gordon has posted back-to-back 900+ yard seasons, he has struggled with ball security and is 28 years old. I don’t think he would be a bad choice for the right price, but better options are available.
5. Rashaad Penny – Seattle Seahawks
After being viewed as a bust for most of his career, Penny finally started to break out a bit over the past two seasons. He has struggled with injuries, but has been good with the football in his hands. Penny still had some dings and minor injuries this year, but managed to lead the league with 6.3 yards per carry.
4. Chase Edmonds – Arizona Cardinals
On paper, Edmonds didn’t have the most productive 2021 season, but he still rushed for 5.1 yards per carry and caught 43 passes. Edmonds would make a perfectly fine complementary running back, and would probably be more of a replacement for Patterson than for Davis.
3. Sony Michel – Los Angeles Rams
Sony Michel had a bit of tough luck on the Patriots with such a crowded backfield, but he had a solid 2021 season for the Rams after being traded last offseason. Michel ran for 5.7 yards per carry on limited touches in 2020, but he posted a respectable 4.1 yards per carry in 2021. He would probably come at a decent price, and his ability to get into the endzone after a catch should appeal to Arthur Smith.
2. Justin Jackson – Los Angeles Chargers
I think Justin Jackson could very well be an option even if the Falcons pick up someone else on this list. I loved Jackson coming out of Northwestern, and he hasn’t carried a heavy load for the Chargers during his time there. Jackson’s still only 27, has averaged 5 yards per carry over his career, and only has 206 career carries. I like the value here as a buy-low option.
1. Cordarrelle Patterson – Atlanta Falcons
Out of all of the options, Patterson is the easy first choice. As long as the money isn’t too absurd, he makes the most sense to bring back. His 2021 production was incredible, and he wants to be here — something the Falcons haven’t seen too much of recently. 2 years for $14 million would be a solid deal for both sides, in my opinion.