Recapping Falcons Offseason Ahead of NFL Draft: Best and Worst Moves

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The Falcons have spent more money this offseason than ever under Arthur Blank’s tenure as team owner. Atlanta’s roster was improved dramatically, but it’s still not a finished product. With the draft approaching and internal development still expected, it should be even better by the start of the 2023 season. So, let’s recap the offseason thus far, identifying the best and worst moves.

Best: Signing Jessie Bates III

The Falcons defense needed impact players at all three levels, and Terry Fontenot went out and signed the top safety on the market. There’s a reason why I am so high on this move. Sure, he might not be as talented as Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick, but Bates is as durable as they come. Last year marked his fifth straight 1,000-plus-snap season. He’s the total package — versatility, intangibles, and productivity. Moreover, it’s a reasonable price that didn’t reset the market.

Worst: Making Chris Lindstrom the highest-paid guard in the league

This one isn’t simple, and I kind of cheated because it’s not the worst move. The Falcons had to pay Lindstrom; he’s one of the few elite players on the team and has been a foundational piece in Arthur Smith’s run heavy offense. You can’t just let that kind of player walk, and you probably shouldn’t haggle over price. He possesses the right stuff, but paying a premium price for a non-premium position rubbed me the wrong way. Granted, he’s more valuable in Atlanta’s system than others; it just still isn’t ideal to be paying a guard $21+ million per season.

Best: Convincing Calais Campbell to come to Atlanta

Calais Campbell isn’t going to log double-digit sacks, but he’s still got some juice left and will provide more than just on-field value. More than anything, this acquisition signified that Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith’s message is resonating further than outside of Flowery Branch; that’s important for other potential free agent targets. Atlanta is becoming a destination for these guys.

Worst: Not addressing the LG position

This might be a bit premature. The Falcons could still sign someone to a vet min deal, but as of now, it looks like a mistake. There’s still time, but Matt Hennessy is the Falcons best option at left guard, and he wasn’t exactly rock solid in 2022. Atlanta could find a solution in or even after the draft, but right now, it’s worrisome that we could see Jalen Mayfield potentially start a game again.

Best: Making the Saints worse

The Falcons hired Terry Fontenot a couple of offseasons ago, and he’s quickly developed a pipeline for personnel from New Orleans to Atlanta. Ryan Nielsen will coordinate the Falcons defense, and he will have a pair of familiar faces to work with — David Onyemata and Kaden Elliss. The former should provide an immediate impact in taking pressure off of Grady Jarrett along the interior. The latter is someone I’m really excited about. Elliss broke out last season, logging seven sacks, more than any player on the Falcons’ defense last year. He’ll impact games in a variety of ways and alignments. All three will be driving factors in Atlanta’s resurging defense; it makes it even better that it made the team’s biggest rival worse at the same time.

Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire


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