Possible free agent backup quarterback options for the Falcons

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There’s still a chance the Falcons select Matt Ryan’s eventual successor in the 2021 draft, as the team has representatives at Trey Lance’s pro day as I type this. However, there could still be some options in free agency after Matt Schaub retired and Kurt Benkert was waived. I’m not sure what Atlanta will do in this draft, but money will be tight. I broke down how much Atlanta could potentially spend, even if Grady Jarrett is restructured. They benefit from the Top 51 rule, only counting the 51 most expensive contracts counting against the cap until the 2021 season kicks off. However, Atlanta could still target a defender like Jurrell Casey or Geno Atkins.

Regardless, the Falcons can’t go into the season with only one quarterback on the roster. I still fully expect them to add an undrafted free agent to the practice squad. I doubt the Falcons would move on one of these guys until after the draft, at the risk of foretelling their plans with the fourth pick. Most of the options have been scooped up, so let’s take a look at who is left.


Robert Griffin III

RG3 may very well be the best option on this list, which isn’t an inspiring start. For the Ravens in 2020, he completed eight passes for 42 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions on 14 attempts. He did have 12 carries for 69 yards, and he wouldn’t be the worst option to bring in if the Falcons do select a Trey Lance or Justin Fields.


Nick Mullens

One of the more “high profile” names on this list, Mullens showed flashes at some points under Kyle Shanahan. He saw the most action out of anyone on this list in 2020, appearing in ten games. In those ten games, Mullens had 211 completions on 326 attempts for 12 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He’s still only 26, so on a cheap one or two-year deal, I could see the Falcons bringing him in as an insurance policy.


Blaine Gabbert

Once the butt of everyone’s draft jokes, Gabbert has developed into a decent journeyman backup. He was with the Titans in 2018 when Arthur Smith was on the staff, and he looked competent in 2020 when the Bucs beat down the Lions as the starters sat out. Gabbert threw 16 passes, completed nine of them for 143 yards, and had two go for touchdowns without an interception. I could see the Falcons being interested in his services.


Brian Hoyer

Mr. Backup himself Brian Hoyer has been very dependable for a few good games throughout his NFL career, which is why he has stuck around for over ten seasons. Last year for the Patriots, Hoyer completed 15 of 24 passes for no touchdowns and an interception. He could be a viable option, even at 35.


Blake Bortles

The former third overall pick gets labeled as a bust, but people forget the Jaguars were a few bad calls away from making it to Super Bowl 52. He wasn’t the answer for a Jacksonville team that was crumbling due to other issues, but Bortles could be decent as a backup. He didn’t appear in 2020 for the Rams or Broncos, but Bortles is the only guy on this list who can say he threw for 4400 yards and 35 touchdowns in a season.


Geno Smith

Like with RG3, Smith could fit the mold of a mentor for a younger mobile quarterback if the Falcons decide to go that route. In Seattle in 2020, Smith completed four of his five passes for 33 yards. His best days are behind him, but he could be a serviceable backup.


Ryan Griffin

Another Buccaneer, but Griffin has some familiarity with Terry Fontenot from his time in New Orleans. He hasn’t made much of an impact on the field. He has thrown four career passes, so unless Fontenot really liked him when the Saints scooped him up as an undrafted free agent, I’d say he’s behind just taking a swing at another UDFA. He has stuck around in the NFL for seven seasons, so perhaps he could be a guy to watch.


Matt Barkley

The former golden child of USC never made his mark in the NFL, but he did serve under Brian Daboll in Buffalo for the past two seasons. With the Bills picking up Mitch Trubisky, his services were no longer required. Barkley completed 11 of 21 passes for 197 yards, throwing a touchdown and interception each.


Brett Hundley

Once thought of as a guy who could blossom into a starter, Brett Hundley didn’t have much luck after filling in for Aaron Rodgers — throwing nine touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 2017. He can move around fairly well, but he did not appear in 2020 after only throwing 11 passes in 2019.

Photographer: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

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