There have been questions from the media and fan base as to what direction the Falcons are going. Stripping the roster of its veteran players to get the team in good standing with the league’s salary cap made many believe the Falcons were on the way to a full-on rebuild, which was especially apparent when the team traded away Julio Jones.
But other offseason moves contradict the belief the organization is in rebuild mode. First and foremost, Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot have been outspoken on multiple occasions that they aren’t here to rebuild, but instead compete right away, which made sense given a few of the offseason moves. The massive Matt Ryan contract restructure, passing on a quarterback, and the entire draft class had fans believing the new regime was, in fact, wanting to compete right away.
I think the Falcons are attempting to shed unwarranted salaries while mostly keeping the foundation in place to compete now and in the future. Most recently, The Athletic put out a piece with each teams’ worst offseason move.
The Falcons were in salary cap hell when coach Arthur Smith and GM Terry Fontenot came to Atlanta, and in their first months on the job, there weren’t many moves they could make because of limited cap space. One of the ways the Falcons were able to get below the cap was by restructuring Matt Ryan’s contract for the fourth time. This was a move sources told The Athletic that Fontenot didn’t really want to make considering the salary cap issue that will follow the organization into 2022. However, he thought his hands were tied, and it came down to either restructuring Ryan or cutting Deion Jones. In the end, the money owed Ryan got pushed down the line. This didn’t help the salary cap in the future; Ryan’s cap hit will be north of $40 million the next two years. And while this may have been one of the worst moves of the offseason, it really wasn’t this front office’s fault they felt they had to make it. — Tori McElhaney
The worst offseason move had to be the Julio Jones trade because it made the entire offseason’s direction unclear. If Jones hadn’t forced his way out of Atlanta, the Falcons’ vision of trying to compete right away becomes much clearer. Ryan’s contract restructure eludes more into the future. In my opinion, it shows me the organization is planning on extending Ryan. Why else would they make it even more difficult to part ways with him in the future?
Trading Jones was something I believe to be out of Fontenot’s control; doing right by one of the greatest Falcons of all time was a classy move by the first-year regime. How else would he handle it, be stubborn and force Jones to stay? Even though it was by far the worst move this offseason, it was inevitable because of Jones’ feelings toward the organization.
To end on a lighter note, the best decision had to be taking Kyle Pitts fourth overall. Pitts may eventually become the best player from the 2021 draft. Obviously, with the value as high as it is for quarterbacks, Pitts went behind three but was unquestionably the best non-quarterback prospect in the class. The former Florida Gator is like nothing this league has ever seen before, so his ceiling is indescribable at this point, but it ends somewhere in Canton, Ohio.
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