The Falcons find themselves at the bottom of the NFL in future odds of winning next year’s Super Bowl. Atlanta is seemingly committed to Matt Ryan in 2022 while attempting to rebuild the roster, which needs a significant overhaul at most positions.
The Falcons’ path to reach the Super Bowl again is long and narrow. There are different approaches they can take. Building around Matt Ryan to maximize his twilight years then transitioning to a younger quarterback on a cheaper deal seems to be the most likely outcome, though.
The Bengals were a team that nobody saw coming. They struggled for many years and racked up top ten picks, resulting in several budding stars in this league. Eventually, they made marquee free agent signings the past two offseasons to surround Joe Burrow with a somewhat competent supporting cast — outside of the offensive line.
Eventually, the Falcons could get to this point with Matt Ryan being an Andy Dalton-Esque figure then finding his successor in the draft after building the foundation around Ryan’s later years. The Falcons are in a bit of a different situation because of Ryan’s contract, so the Falcons can also emulate the Rams’ approach to the Super Bowl in similar ways.
LA has been building this team for years. Each season they’d trade first-round picks for stars — Jalen Ramsey, Matthew Stafford, etc. — and find free-agent bargains on the open market.
The Rams only have one fifth-round and two seventh-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft and won’t have a first-round selection until 2024. Obviously, the Rams felt they had built a team competitive enough to win a Super Bowl, but not with Jared Goff at the helm. Quarterback was really the only weakness on the roster. They went all-in on Stafford with high-profile trades and free-agent signings, which resulted in a Super Bowl victory.
The Falcons don’t have the same path as these two teams, but Atlanta can take something from each approach to build their own potential Super Bowl team. They’re clearly not in the same situation where they need to be trading away first-round picks like the Rams, but they also won’t be in a position to draft someone like Burrow with Matt Ryan still under center.
The Falcons are stuck in the middle, but their most likely path is to continue to stockpile draft picks in hopes of building a talented enough roster for Ryan to get one last shot at a playoff run, then pivoting to a young quarterback on a rookie deal. At that point, if the roster is close, then taking a page out of the Rams playbook may be in order. Still, the Falcons are a long way away from emulating either of these teams’ completely different trajectories to the Super Bowl.