Predictions for the Falcons offseason


For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the Falcons have some excitement surrounding the franchise this offseason. The end of the rebuild is in sight, and there’s a legitimate chance this team is in the playoffs this time next year. Following a season in which the Falcons went 7-10, they have the second-most cap space of any team, along with a top 10 selection in the NFL Draft. If Terry Fontenot and company pull the right strings, there’s no reason they can’t win a putrid NFC South.

Falcons lock up the core of their offensive line

Most people probably wouldn’t have disagreed with the Falcons decision not to pick up Kaleb McGary‘s fifth-year option for 2023, but it turned out to be a mistake by the new regime. The former Washington Husky was one of the better right tackles in the league and will command a multi-year contract this offseason in a weak free agent class for the position.

The Falcons don’t have to sign him to a deal, but a punishing offensive line is critical in Arthur Smith’s offense, and it became the identity of the team. Locking up Chris Lindstrom, who earned second-team All-Pro honors this season, is a no-brainer, but signing McGary to a similar deal should also be in the cards. Those two are set to be staples in Atlanta for the foreseeable future.

Falcons sign veteran quarterback to compete with Desmond Ridder

There will be no shortage of discussions surrounding the Falcons situation at quarterback this offseason, which is how it should be. It is the most important position in sports, and the Falcons will never be legitimate contenders until they find their next franchise QB.

Everything should be on the table. The Falcons could select a quarterback in the draft; they could look to trade for a more veteran presence, or they could even stick with Ridder for one more season to see what they really have in him. I’m going with the latter, but it won’t come without competition. After cutting ties with Marcus Mariota, I have the Falcons signing another veteran quarterback to compete with Ridder this offseason. The hope is for Ridder to be the guy, but he will have to win the job against a proven commodity. It won’t just be handed to him.

Casey Hayward is cut to create more cap space

The Falcons don’t have many players that should be cut this offseason. Marcus Mariota is the obvious candidate. There’s no way he should be on the roster after what transpired this season, but other than that, an argument could be made that nobody else should be released.

The only other situation that is up in the air is Casey Hayward. The Falcons can save $5 million against next year’s cap by parting ways with the veteran, and I think that’s what they do. $5 million isn’t a ton of money, and Hayward was decent when he was on the field this season, but he suffered a season-ending injury halfway through and will be 34 next season. There aren’t many cornerbacks experiencing success at that age, particularly ones coming off significant injuries. I have the Falcons cutting ties with Hayward and getting younger at the position opposite of A.J. Terrell.

Falcons draft a cornerback in the first round

Outside of the quarterback position, the focus of the offseason should be on the defense. Offensively, this team already features a lot of high quality pieces, but the same can’t be said about the other side of the ball. The Falcons need help at all three levels of the defense, not just on the defensive line.

Improving the secondary is a must, and while I expect Atlanta to add to their defensive line, I don’t love many of the prospects that will be available where the Falcons are slotted to pick 8th overall. However, there are lots of corners that could go that high, and Atlanta could potentially even trade back and select their guy. With their first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, I expect the Falcons will spend it on finding a running mate for AJ Terrell.

Falcons add numbers to the defensive line

It’s been said by both Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot on several occasions already this offseason that the defensive front will be a focal point this offseason, and we are not even a month in. The Falcons pass rush has been pathetic for nearly a decade, but especially over the last two seasons, as they have 20 fewer sacks than any other team in football. That has to be especially frustrating for Terry Fontenot, who came from a franchise in New Orleans that has been one of the best teams at getting after the quarterback. The pass rush won’t be fixed overnight in Atlanta, but the overhaul gets started in a big way this offseason. I expect the Falcons to add plenty of bodies — I’m talking 5-6 guys — to the defensive line through the draft and free agency.

Photo: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire


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