How does Falcons offseason stack up with rest of NFC South?

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The NFL offseason isn’t over. There are still premier free agents on the market, and the trade market is also robust with potential targets as well. For the Falcons, Terry Fontenot has some work to do on the defensive side of the ball, but for the most part, the heavy lifting is done.

The primary goal of the offseason was to fix the quarterback position, and Atlanta’s GM did that by inking Kirk Cousins to a massive four-year, $180 million contract, a move that signals to the rest of the league the Falcons are ready to compete.

Raheem Morris acknowledged the expectation is to win the division, but with Cousins, that’s no longer good enough. The Falcons must have some form of success in the postseason. First, though, they have to win the NFC South, so how does Atlanta’s offseason stack up with their rivals?

The Dirty Birds’ most notable acquisitions came in the form of Cousins and Darnell Mooney, but other ancillary moves include Rondale Moore and Ray-Ray McCloud. The Falcons said goodbye to Jeff Okudah, Jonnu Smith, and Cordarrelle Patterson, most notably.

As I mentioned earlier, the Falcons do have more needs on the defensive side of the ball, with the EDGE and cornerback rooms being the most pressing. It’s something I’ve discussed at length, which you can read here.

The Panthers are ushering in a new era under Dave Canales, who moves over from the Buccaneers. Carolina’s future is much brighter than it was a year ago, especially with the acquisitions of Robert Hunt, Damien Lewis, and Diontae Johnson. Bryce Young should have a much better season, but the Panthers aren’t ready to compete and said goodbye to two of their best players — Brian Burns and Frankie Luvu. I still believe in Young, especially under Canales, but they’re still a year away from being taken seriously.

The Saints sit around about 3-1 underdogs to take the division as they continue to kick the financial can down the road. New Orleans welcomed Chase Young and Willie Gay in free agency while losing Michael Thomas, Jameis Winston, and Andrus Peat, most notably. With Dennis Allen leading the Saints, I’ll never be too confident in their future, but they still have a solid group of veterans; they’re just aging. The offensive line is still a significant weakness with Peat’s departure and Trevor Penning’s struggles.

The Buccaneers have similar odds as the Saints to win the division after taking the last three, but this is going to be a different looking team in 2024. Yes, they retained several marquee free agents in Mike Evans, Baker Mayfield, Lavonte David, and Antoine Winfield, but they also said goodbye to Shaquil Barrett, Carlton Davis, and Devin White. Tampa Bay is somewhat sticking with the status quo and still has a major need for an edge pass rusher.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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