The Falcons haven’t made the postseason since the 2017 season. It’s one of the longest playoff droughts in the NFL, but Atlanta has a legitimate shot at returning to meaningful football in January this season.
Arthur Smith’s team has remained competitive despite limited personnel, but that is over. The Falcons have the second most cap space in the league, with about $67 million, along with another top 10 draft pick.
After two seasons, the club has finally established an offensive identity behind their head coach’s extensive run game. The defense hasn’t quite caught up, but the roster is poised to be upgraded significantly this offseason. So much so that USA Today’s Nate Davis dubbed Atlanta one of six teams who are positioned to make major progress in 2023:
“They’ve gone 14-20 over the past two seasons under head coach Arthur Smith, who’s been working with a mix of fading veterans and rookies while this organization burned off albatross contracts from the previous regime,” writes Davis. “Per OverTheCap, Smith and Co. will head into free agency with the second-biggest budget in the league. Combine that with the No. 8 pick of the draft and an underrated nucleus of players that includes RB Tyler Allgeier, WR Drake London, TE Kyle Pitts and CB A.J. Terrell, and there’s no reason to believe ATL can’t rise to the top of what projects as an extremely weakened NFC South.”
The most important circumstance for the Falcons’ potential rise is their division. With Tom Brady retiring and the Buccaneers turning to Kyle Trask, there’s a scenario where the best quarterback in the division is Desmond Ridder, depending on what the Panthers and Saints do at signal caller.
The Saints are pushing further and further into a delusional state of believing the team can be competitive and will likely make a strong push for Derek Carr, which doesn’t do much for me. The Panthers, however, are worth worrying about. The roster is in a real place to compete; the quarterback position is the only question. Carolina has brought in an impressive staff under Frank Reich; they’ll run away with the division if they can bring in a competent quarterback.
Regardless of what the Falcons do this offseason, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have laid the foundation. We should have higher expectations in 2023 than ever before.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire
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