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Atlanta Falcons Offseason Moves and Needs

Atlanta Falcons Offseason Moves and Needs

Key Free Agents

  • Grady Jarrett
  • Matt Schaub
  • Brian Poole
  • Andy Levitre
  • Tevin Coleman
  • Justin Hardy
  • Marvin Hall
  • Justin Bethel
  • Bruce Irvin
  • Steven Means
  • Ty Sambrailo
  • Terrell McClain

While this isn’t all of the Falcons free agents, in my opinion, they are the most important ones. Whether these players are re-signed or not will help determine what Atlanta does in free agency and in the draft. Despite what some are wishing and praying for, Grady Jarrett will be back playing for Atlanta next season. Look for them to get him extended soon. 


 

Quarterback

If the Falcons would like some youth to backup Ryan, they have either Kurt Benkert on their practice squad or they could look to draft someone in the later rounds. If they are wanting to have a veteran behind Ryan but want to move on from Schaub, some other notable free agents are Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown.

 

Offensive Line

While they have yet to make the move, most believe the Falcons will be releasing Ryan Schraeder. The offensive line was decimated with injuries and couldn’t find a good rhythm the entire 2018 season. The rushing attack was hurt tremendously because of the line woes. For the first time since 2014, Atlanta failed to average over 100 yards rushing per game. Since becoming the head coach, Quinn has drafted offensive linemen, but prefers to get veterans in free agency. Atlanta will surely be making moves along the offensive line, likely both via free agency and the draft. 

 

Receivers

The current receivers under contract are Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage. Julio will be extending sometime after Atlanta gets a deal with Grady Jarrett done. It’s likely Atlanta will bring back Marvin Hall, but I could see them moving on from Justin Hardy and drafting a receiver in the upcoming draft. 

 

Running Backs

While most fans are sad to see him go, and some think that Atlanta should have kept Coleman instead of Freeman, I respectfully disagree. Tevin Coleman is a great running back, but Devonta Freeman is more versatile. While Freeman is well known for his pass blocking blunder in the Super Bowl, Coleman has his moments too. It just wasn’t in the biggest game of his career. Ito Smith showed promise in his first year and Brian Hill looked flashy too. With a healthy Freeman, the Falcons backfield will be in good hands in 2019. 

 

Secondary

With Atlanta releasing Robert Alford and now letting Brian Poole know they will not tender him, allowing him to become a free agent, defensive back becomes more of a pressing need. Isaiah Oliver will assume Alford’s position on the outside, while Domantae Kazee will see a larger role in the slot. Desmond Trufant had a slow start to the 2018 season, but was much better the second half of the year. Domontae Kazee proved that he needs to be on the field when Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal are back and healthy. With Alford and Poole no longer on the team, he will have that opportunity. Kazee was tied for the league lead with seven interceptions. Look for Atlanta to add more depth with the releasing of Poole and Alford in the draft or free agency. It was reported they are open to bringing back Poole on a cheaper deal, but it is likely he will find more money elsewhere.

 

Linebackers

Atlanta has already extended Bruce Carter, who adds nice depth to the linebacker corps. When Deion Jones went down, De’Vondre Campbell and Duke Riley were immediately called upon to step up in his absence. Riley showed that he was really raw in his first season and only played in 12 games due to an injury. In year two when called upon, Riley sadly hasn’t been the player the Falcons were hoping for. To mostly everyone’s surprise. 2018 sixth-round pick Foyesade Oluokon played very well. When fully healthy, the group has a lot of upside, with Jones terrorizing the field. Atlanta may look to add more depth in the offseason.

 

Defensive Line

The biggest needs for Atlanta going into the offseason lay in the trenches. The Falcons already cut Brooks Reed, leaving Vic Beasley, Steven Means, and Takkarist Mckinley as the lone edge rushers under contract. Despite many wanting the Falcons to get rid of Beasley, I just don’t see it happening.  Ideally, they will cut him and bring him back on a cheaper contract. After the Falcons extend Grady, they will only have Deadrin Senat and Jack Crawford, besides a few other depth players from the practice squad, on the interior. If you take a look at any of the current mock drafts, almost every analyst has Atlanta taking a defensive tackle or edge rusher with their first round pick. Look for the Falcons to add multiple players in free agency and through the draft at these two positions. 

 

Players already cut:

  • Robert Alford
  • Brooks Reed
  • Matt Bryant

Coaching Departures

Steve Sarkisian: Offensive Coordinator

While the Falcons offense was better in Sarkisian’s second year calling the plays, they still left a lot to be desired. Their offense was also hit with the injury bug and simply poor play across the board. Both starting guards went down with injury early in the season and starting right tackle, Ryan Schraeder, was ultimately benched. Quinn expressed in his end of the season press conference that the only players along the offensive line that he was pleased with were at the left tackle and center positions. Devonta Freeman only touched the ball 19 time,s as he was dealing with injuries all season and was on IR. Atlanta was 1-of-7 teams in the NFL to not average 100 yards rushing per game. 

 

Marquand Manuel: Defensive Coordinator

Going into the season, the Falcons defense looked like it could be a force. They had holes along the defensive line, but the rest of the defense looked good on paper. Injuries derailed what could have been for the Falcons, losing both safeties and Deion Jones for a large chunk of the season. Manuel couldn’t overcome the loss of the key players and the Falcons had one of the worst defenses in the league. Dan Quinn will assume calling the defense, as he did in the Falcons 2016 season. 

 

Keith Armstrong: Special Teams Coordinator

Armstrong had been with the team since 2008 and this move was overdue. It was time for him and Atlanta to both move on. 

It was inevitable that the Falcons were going to make coaching changes with how the season panned out. Yes, they were ravaged by injuries on both sides of the ball, but even with all of the injuries, Atlanta still had enough talent to be better than 7-9. Manuel and Sarkisian only had nine years of NFL coaching experience combined, while Armstrong has been in the game much longer. He started coaching at the professional level in 1994.

 

Coaching Additions

Dirk Koetter: Offensive Coordinator

Matt Ryan’s second offensive coordinator in the league. He was the Falcons offensive coordinator from 2012-14 before taking the Buccaneers head coaching job. 

 

Mike Mularkey: Tight Ends Coach

Matt Ryan’s first offensive coordinator in the NFL. He was the Falcons offensive coordinator from 2008-11 before taking the Jaguars head coaching job. 

 

Bob Sutton: Senior Assistant Coach/Clock Manager

With 45 years of coaching experience across the collegiate and professional level, Bob Sutton takes over for Kyle Flood. Flood was the Falcons assistant offensive line coach 2017-18 and after this past season was promoted for the position, but ended up leaving to become Alabama’s offensive line coach. 

 

Ben Kotwica: Special Teams Coordinator

Ben has been coaching special teams since 2007 with the New York Jets and Washington Redskins. He was the Redskins special teams coordinator from 2014-18

Dirk Koetter has either been an offensive coordinator or head coach at the collegiate and professional level since 1985. Mike Mularkey has been coaching in the NFL since 1994, holding various titles for eight different teams. Bob Sutton has coached in the NFL since 2000, coaching several defensive roles. Kotwica and Sutton are familiar faces for Quinn. They were all together on the Jets coaching staff in 2007-08. If it wasn’t clear, the Falcons had one major thing in mind when hiring the new staff and that is experience. Three of the four coaches hired have head coaching experience, whether it be at the professional or collegiate level.  

 

Draft Picks: 7

Round 1: Pick 14

Round 2: Pick 45

Round 3: Pick 80

Round 4: Pick 111

Round 5: Pick 142

Round 6: Pick 173

Round 7: Pick 208

 

Conclusion

If Atlanta could make a splash play in free agency by going out and signing Gerald McCoy, who has been rumored as a potential cut, it would be huge. They could then put their focus on an offensive lineman or edge rusher in the early rounds and draft accordingly the rest of the way to fill out the roster. Ideally, Atlanta will be able to bring back Bruce Irvin, which will give them a quality veteran presence for the defense. If Gerald McCoy doesn’t work out, then I don’t see Atlanta going after any other highly sought after players with their cap situation.

 

 

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