What has the Falcons consistent theme in free agency been?

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The Falcons have developed a type in their preference of players. Whether it’s free agents or draft prospects, there are tangible and intangible traits Atlanta seeks out.

Different positions have different preferences. Defensive linemen and edge defenders generally have long arms if the Falcons are going to draft them. Pass catchers have been big-bodied, but all of them are high-character individuals — a consistent theme that applies to the Falcons free agent targets too.

Jessie Bates III received Atlanta’s biggest free agent contract this offseason and for good reason. “We not only want players who will be good at their position, but who’re going to make people around them better,” Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said. “(Bates) has done that through his career.”

Even Chris Lindstrom‘s market-setting deal reveals similar tendencies within the front office. “He embodies all of the characteristics and traits of the program we want to be, the person he is, the way he operates, the way he competes on a daily basis, obviously he has a lot of physical talent,” Fontenot said of Lindstrom. “… He’s the type of guy we want to build around.”

Taylor Heinicke is another example. All anyone talks about is how good of a person the veteran is and how supportive he will be of Desmond Ridder. Go back to the past free agent classes, and the theme remains constant — Lorenzo Carter, Casey Hayward, Cordarrelle Patterson, Duron Harmon, Erik Harris, etc. All are high-character individuals.

However, versatility is another key component of the players the Falcons target. Patterson is the perfect example and the one that comes to everyone’s mind, but it’s more than just that. David Onyemata and Kaden Elliss can impact games in various alignments. Onyemata up and down the line of scrimmage, and Elliss on and off it.

Jessie Bates is equally versatile, able to serve as a rangy ballhawk who can play the center field role in single-high but also rotate down into the box, basically interchangeable with Richie Grant. Mike Hughes can play in the slot and on the boundary.

Mack Hollins isn’t only a reliable set of hands but is one of the better run-blocking receivers in the league. Versatility is key for this new regime, even for the reserve players. Germain Ifedi can play both tackle positions and guard in a pinch, which is valuable as a depth piece.

Jonnu Smith wasn’t a free agent signing but had the same makeup. He’s a high-character guy and can impact games in various ways, with and without the ball in his hands.

Moreover, if a player can’t contribute on special teams, the likelihood that he lands with the Falcons is slim. Mack Hollins, Mike Hughes, Cornell Armstrong, Tae Davis, Parker Hesse, and Keith Smith will all play a role in the third phase of the game.

High character and versatility would be the two most common attributes in Falcons free agent targets but also their draft targets.

Photographer: Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

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