Terry Fontenot draft picks in danger of being cut by Falcons

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While Arthur Smith was fired earlier this offseason, Falcons owner Arthur Blank felt Terry Fontenot had done enough to remain in Atlanta.

The club’s GM formed a new regime with Raheem Morris and did more to address the quarterback position this offseason than all of the other ones combined. Fontenot and Morris signed Kirk Cousins to a $180 million free agent contract then followed it up by making Michael Penix the highest-drafted quarterback since Matt Ryan.

Fontenot completely overhauled the position, but there’s no escaping his track record. Though his work in free agency deserves recognition, his drafts have proven inconsistent at best.

Most recently, the Falcons parted ways with Ade Ogundeji, who was a member of Fontenot’s first draft class in Atlanta, which has mostly dissipated in just three seasons.

Kyle Pitts headlined the Falcons class and hasn’t lived up to the billing of the highest-drafted tight end in NFL history. Granted, poor quarterback play and injuries have hampered his production, so this is a big season for him. Drew Dalman is honestly carrying that class at this point, as a fourth-round pick turned starter.

Avery Williams is returning and the hope is he picks up where he left off on special teams. Richie Grant is entering a contract year and was supplanted by a rookie 7th-round pick last season. Jalen Mayfield, Darren Hall, Ade Ogundeji, and Frank Darby are no longer with the team.

With training camp around the corner, here are a few candidates that could be cut by the Falcons ahead of the 2024 campaign.

S Richie Grant, 2021 2nd round pick

As I noted before, Grant was demoted last season in favor of a rookie 7th-round pick and is entering the final season of his rookie contract. He hasn’t developed as many Falcons fans had hoped, particularly in coverage, especially man coverage.

It’s probably unlikely that Grant is cut because he’s at worst a good depth piece with special teams value, but there’s a chance that Raheem Morris and Jimmy Lake can’t do enough to hide some of Grant’s deficiencies and prefer DeMarcco Hellams or even Micah Abernathy over him.

DL Ta’Quon Graham, 2021 5th round pick

Graham was someone that I thought was well on his way to becoming a mainstay along Atlanta’s front. He turned in a very productive campaign in his second season next to Grady Jarrett, but an MCL injury ended that potential breakout prematurely. Returning last year, the Texas product hardly found the field. Now, with a new regime, his future is cloudy at best because the Falcons just drafted Brandon Dorlus, Ruke Orhorhoro, and Bralen Trice to bolster the defensive line.

EDGE DeAngelo Malone, 2022 3rd round pick

Desmond Ridder was the other 3rd round pick in the 2022 draft class, and he’s currently wearing other threads; Malone could be next. The Falcons drafted Bralen Trice, and Zach Harrison is expected to take snaps at the position, leaving few to go around for Malone.

He literally took two (2) snaps for Ryan Nielsen on defense last year. Most of his work came on special teams, so there’s certainly a role for him in the third phase of the game, but there’s a chance the new staff doesn’t see it.

Nonetheless, this highlights Terry Fontenot’s struggles in drafting since taking over as the Falcons GM.

Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire


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