The Atlanta Falcons may have just freed up some much-needed cash by restructuring quarterback Matt Ryan‘s massive contract. His cap figure was slated at $48.66 million in 2022.
However, the song remains the same for the Falcons heading into free agency: They’re angling for value adds that pay dividends on the field.
Sure, the loss of wide receiver Calvin Ridley due to violating the league’s gambling policy also generated some available cap space. But yet again the Falcons find themselves in dire need at multiple positions with a suboptimal level of cash to spend.
Essentially, it’s a bad math problem that general manager Terry Fontenot must solve via keen player evaluation and a bang-up job in the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft.
Throwing the tethers of reality out the window is always more fun than accepting that a splashy offseason simply may not be in the cards for these Atlanta Falcons. So with that caveat, we take a look at the top free-agent fits regardless of cap space restraints.
Since Georgia sports betting is a possibility this year, fans might want to take note of what the Falcons does in free agency.
Despite a contract year marred by absences due to injury and illness, wide receiver Allen Robinson has historically been a productive and reliable target — especially in the red zone.
He’s emerging from a season in Chicago where he only tallied 410 receiving yards. And one touchdown in 12 games — a down year to be sure.
But in his previous seven seasons, he’s averaged 857 yards and scored 37 times. And red zone production from its wide receiving corps is something the Falcons desperately need.
Upgrading the wide receivers room was always an area that Atlanta needed to address. But it’s vaulted up the priority list in the wake of Calvin Ridley’s year-long suspension.
Allen Robinson would certainly fit the bill in free agency.
An obvious one. Cordarrelle Patterson officially put the league on notice in 2021. With the Atlanta Falcons finally tapping into his abilities on the football field to make him one of the NFL’s most electric players.
He was your textbook Swiss Army Knife on offense. Rushing for 618 yards and six touchdowns, and turning 52 receptions into 548 receiving yards and five scores.
CP’s market should be robust, and he’s played an active-and-entertaining role in lobbying the Falcons’ brass to bring him back.
They’d be wise to.
The revolving door on the edge of the Falcons defense has been one of the bugs (and features) of their defensive line since the departure of John Abraham.
Atlanta has taken an Island of Misfit Toys approach to the position. Bringing in some free agent flotsam and jetsam and early draft picks that do not pan out. If the Falcons have money to spend, they should set their sights on edge defender Chandler Jones.
The Falcons are reportedly in the mix, although Jones has stated that he desires to play for a contender. And acquiring the 32-year-old’s services would provide the biggest boost to the Falcons’ defensive line in years.
Chandler Jones is fresh off of a Pro Bowl season in Arizona, one where he racked up 10.5 sacks. He will have a commanding market, but it would prove a marquee offseason move should the Falcons land him.
The left guard spot has been a veritable black hole on the Falcons’ offensive line. While the team has made it apparent that they have trust in 2021 rookie Jalen Mayfield, a proven veteran guard a la Andy Levitre would be an immediate boost to a unit that could certainly use one.
To dare is to dream, and while the Falcons will need to be choosy with their available cash, it’s difficult not to excitedly imagine the possibilities should Atlanta acquire the above free agents.
Of course, there’s always the outside possibility that general manager Terry Fontenot works some cap space wizardry. Until then, we’ll have to be comfortable with window shopping the free-agent crop and hope the moves Atlanta makes pay dividends.
Photo Credit: Danny Karnik / Associated Press