As free agency opened some key pieces for the Atlanta Falcons were set to become free agents leaving them some areas to address. Their main areas of need were at guard, defensive tackle and cornerback. Other areas where they have lost depth pieces are at running back, wide receiver, tight end, and linebacker. So what have the Falcons done to fill these holes? Have they done the right thing or just chased big names?
One minor move by the Falcons was to add Logan Paulsen at tight end to back-up Austin Hooper. The addition of Paulsen allows them to at least have a solid option to turn to if Hooper struggles. Another relatively minor but underrated decision was to re-sign Matt Bryant for three years. Kickers are generally seen as very replaceable pieces but equally, we have seen where poor kicking has cost teams. Teams should not hesitate to re-sign a good kicker because a bad kicker can derail a season.
The Falcons have been extremely active in the cornerback market. However, with two options they really like, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, as well as a solid third option, Brian Poole, they have focused mostly on depth and competition at the position rather than chasing the top players available. They have added Justin Bethel, Leon McFadden and Blidi Wreh-Wilson in free agency so far. None of them are going to be instant starters but are all improvements over the previous fourth-best cornerback on the team, Marcelis Branch. The battle for cornerback slots on this roster could be a really interesting watch in training camp this season.
The biggest addition of the offseason was the acquisition of Brandon Fusco, free agent guard from the San Francisco 49ers. In addition, they managed to re-sign guard Ben Garland but Fusco’s signing will make Garland utility player. Garland can now be the back-up to both the guard and center positions which is perhaps a better role for him. Guard was an important position to address in free agency because a Super Bowl contender needs players to come in and contribute now. It is much easier to find guys at other positions in the first round of the draft who can be immediate contributors than it is at offensive line. At most other positions a player form part of a rotation but offensive line consistency is so important negating the use of a rotation. For this reason, an experienced every down player like Fusco is a key addition.
Positions of need
The key position they have not addressed is defensive tackle. Currently, they have Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford as projected starters. Jarrett is a good option but they will want to have someone better than Crawford as their second starter. This is a position they likely look to address at 26, their first-round pick. There are a handful of good options at the position projected to be available at their pick. They could also still bring back Ahtyba Rubin to add a little more depth and competition in camp.
The great thing for the Atlanta Falcons is that entering the draft the only gaping hole is at defensive tackle. They can look to use their draft assets to add depth at offensive skill positions and/or increase their linebacker depth. With their current roster, the Falcons can feel confident that come December and January of the NFL season they will be there or there about when it comes to making the playoffs.