With the Falcons approaching a cap crunch next season, they did well to ink Ricardo Allen to a modest 3-year pact and lock up Jake Matthews.
However, Grady Jarrett and Julio Jones’ contract situations still loom.
Keeping that in mind, how can Atlanta save some money and open up cap space to keep their core together? Matt Schaub is a man who has been on the roster bubble for quite some time. Schaub is making a decent chunk of change for a backup QB – $8 million this season. While it seems at this point the Falcons are going to roll with him for this season, who is going to be the backup QB next season?
Enter Kurt Benkert.
Benkert was pegged as a sleeper QB pick by many draft analysts leading up to the draft. He has undeniable arm talent, but makes a lot of questionable throws and sometimes “trusts his arm too much”. Greg Knapp has had a few weeks to work with him, and he will be taking a majority of the snaps on Friday night against the Jets. This is a great opportunity for Kurt, considering the Jets have one of the shakiest secondaries and least intimidating pass rushes in the entire NFL. Benkert started his career at East Carolina, but after transferring to Virginia, finished his Senior season with 25 TDs to 9 INTs with over 3,200 yards. Even though he put up very respectable numbers, he went undrafted for a reason. He’s still very much a project, but if the Falcons are going to trim salary and keep their key players, Benkert is going to have to step up and prove he can be a viable backup quarterback.
Now, let’s take a look at Atlanta’s notable free agents for 2019.
DT Grady Jarrett
HB Tevin Coleman
CB Brian Poole
G Andy Levitre
QB Matt Schaub
DT Derrick Shelby
CB Justin Bethel
WR Justin Hardy
T Ty Sambrailo
You have to believe Atlanta’s main priorities will be Jarrett and Poole. Tevin Coleman is almost certain to walk. I don’t see Atlanta bringing back Levitre at age 33, but it is possible. The club will probably part with Bethel as Isaiah Oliver enters his 2nd season. Ditto for Hardy and Calvin Ridley. Sambrailo will probably be back on a modest deal considering the team gave up a draft pick to get him.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Dimitroff navigates these waters, but one thing is for sure; Benkert needs to show flashes to give Dan Quinn confidence he can replace Matt Schaub.
We’ll see Friday at 7:30.