How have the Falcons and Saints rosters changed since we last saw them?

falcons

The Falcons are gearing up for their season opener, hosting their hated rival New Orleans Saints in Atlanta this Sunday. But these two teams have changed drastically since we last saw them.


Key Falcons Additions

Key Falcons Departures


The most notable difference for the Falcons is the quarterback position, Mariota replacing Ryan, which should give Arthur Smith more flexibility in his play design and calling. The mobility of Mariota could also take some pressure off the offensive line. He can extend plays with his feet, and Smith will be able to move the pocket more often this season.

The Falcons effectively replaced Moreau with Hayward, which has to be seen as the most glaring upgrade on the roster. Hayward isn’t an All-Pro anymore, but he’s the best running mate AJ Terrell has had in his career.

Elijah Wilkinson was brought in not to replace a departing player but rather to take over for Jalen Mayfield at left guard, who was inarguably the worst offensive linemen in football in pass protection last year. The Falcons should see benefits from that change immediately.

Now, for the more negative aspects of this offseason’s roster changes. Oluokun’s versatility and leadership will be difficult to replicate, but Rashaan Evans has experience in Dean Pees’ defense and is looking for a fresh start after not receiving a second contract from the Titans.

Drake London and Bryan Edwards join one of the weaker receiving cores in football from a year ago, and to make matters worse, Calvin Ridley won’t be stepping on the field this season. London and Edwards should provide big-bodied, run-after-the-catch targets for Mariota. For the most part, the Falcons got better this offseason. Now, let’s focus on the Aints.


Key Saints Additions

Key Saints Departures


Honestly, the Saints somehow got better this offseason, all while navigating their difficult cap situation. Landry joins his hometown team after almost joining the cross-town rivals when the Falcons believed they’d land Deshaun Watson. He’s still a capable slot target and will undoubtedly create problems for Dean Pees’ defense, which will be without its top option at nickel, Isaiah Oliver.

The Falcons’ biggest worry has to come on the backend. Marcus Mayes and Tyrann Mathieu are two of the best in the business and will look to slow down Kyle Pitts in some capacity. The Honey Badger is lethal when it comes to creating turnovers, so Marcus Mariota cannot put the ball in harm’s way. Maye is one of the best safeties in football and is a perfect complement to Mathieu.

The addition of Chris Olave cannot be overlooked either. He should be the third option in a pretty underrated receiving core with Micahel Thomas leading the way. Olave has some of the best body control and ball skills of any prospect I’ve ever seen. He should have an immediate impact. But it’s not all roses.

New Orleans significantly downgraded at tackle. Terron Armstead is one of the best left tackles in the league; his departure can’t be glossed over. Combine that with the injury of rookie Trevor Penning, and the Falcons should be able to exploit this weakness. However, that wasn’t the Saints’ most significant loss.

This honor goes to the head coach position. Dennis Allen will take over for Sean Payton, who led the Saints to more success than any other head coach in the team’s history. Allen is a defensive specialist, so Falcons fans don’t have to worry about Payton’s excellence on the offensive side of the ball haunting them anymore.

The Saints improved this offseason in some areas but losing the conductor of the train cannot be overlooked. The defense will once again be elite, but there are questions that need answering on the other side of the ball.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

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