I know it's not popular but, I've said it multiple times:
QB = Ryan
RB = Freeman
WR = Julio, Ridley, Gage
TE = Graham
OL = Matthews, Brown/Carpenter/Gono, Mack, Lindstrom, McGary
DE = Takk, Cominksy
DT = Grady, Senat
LB = Debo, Foye
CB = Trufant, Oliver, Sheffield
S = Rico, Neal, Kazee
That's the core of the roster right now. They're likely bringing Clayborn and Davison back. Until Freeman is cut/traded, he's RB1. Same with Trufant as CB1. As of now, where are the upgradeable spots?
It's not the following positions: QB, WR1, WR2, LT, C, RG, RT, DT1, MLB, CB1.
That leaves RB1 (depending on Freeman), TE, LG (but that's clearly going to be in house), DE, DT2, LB, and S. Notice, four of those six are defense. I'd bet they go DT, LB, and S with their first three picks in this draft.
I imagine when the CBA is signed < fingers crossed > we will see some activity with our cap to free up space. We aren't in a great place but there are moves that can be made to give us relief.
I really would like to see Means play a full season, and I think Wreh-Wilson is an important cog in our DB rotation so I'd like to see both get deals.
Thomas Dimitroff doesn’t believe the Falcons are in “salary-cap ****.” He also knows they’re far from “salary-cap paradise,” too.
With the current contracts on the books, Atlanta is projected to have more than $4 million in cap space. That’s obviously a low number that will involve some nifty maneuvering if the franchise is to bring in some key components to the 2020 roster. There will be some cap casualties to go with a restructured contract or two. As Dimitroff has alluded to in the past, working around Matt Ryan’s $150 million contract hasn’t been easy, since so much of the team’s overall cap figure is tied up in it.
A good example of this came last year when the Falcons were unable to be major players when free agency opened.
The Falcons have a bevy of needs to address, although much speculation has centered on whether they can afford a top free agent, specifically at edge rusher. As Dimitroff likes to say, the Falcons will need to be “creative” if they are to attract anyone who can help propel them back to the postseason. From the outside, edge rusher would seem to be Atlanta’s greatest need. The Falcons decided not to bring back Vic Beasley, and Takk McKinley will enter the fourth year of his rookie deal, with early signs pointing toward his fifth-year option not being picked up. Adding a pass rusher seems essential to the short- and long-term health of the franchise.
The present cap situation would suggest that someone like Jadeveon Clowney, who could make an average of more than $20 million per season, is unattainable. Shaquil Barrett, who led the NFL with 19.5 sacks in 2019, also probably falls in that category. Signing someone like Dante Fowler Jr., who could command a salary of more than $15 million per year, also could be tough but perhaps is more doable with the right cuts.
Another idea could be to trade for Jacksonville Jaguars edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who will have the franchise tag placed on him. One benefit of this is the Falcons then would be able to keep the 2021 compensatory pick for Austin Hooper’s departure. Of course, this would require a long-term deal for Ngakoue, which figures to get quite expensive. In addition, trading for Ngakoue, who has posted 37.5 sacks in his first four seasons, would probably require at least a 2020 first-round pick.
The safest bet likely lies in finding a veteran edge rusher who can help a rookie draft pick develop. With this in mind, Mario Addison, who has 55 career sacks since 2011, seemingly would fit while coming at a much more affordable price than the aforementioned names.
If the Falcons are to add one of these edge rushers in free agency, they’ll have to move quickly. There aren’t many on the market this year.
“That’s an expensive position,” Dimitroff said. “I think a lot of people are looking at that, trying to compare the worth and the value there. There are some very good football players there.”
Falcons’ in-house free-agent predictions
Several players from Atlanta’s 2019 roster are expected to hit free agency if new contracts aren’t reached by the new league year’s beginning on March 18. Here are some predictions on whether these players will be back, or if it’s too early to tell.
DT Tyeler Davison: Davison put forth a productive season that saw him post a career-best 55 tackles. Davison was stout against the run and impressed the coaching staff with his play. I expect Davison to re-sign.
DE Steven Means: A tough edge-setter with some pass-rushing ability, Means tore his Achilles last offseason. The coaches love his game as well as his speed, and missed him a great deal in 2019. I think Means will be back in the fold for 2020 and could even sign a contract before the new league year begins.
DE Adrian Clayborn: Clayborn offers an edge-setting presence on the field to go with leadership in the locker room, so a return makes sense. But it’s unknown where the Falcons stand, at least from the outside looking in.
RB Kenjon Barner: Barner had a good season as a return specialist and would seemingly have a chance to be back in 2020. That stated, since he’s primarily a special-teamer, Barner probably will be forced to wait until late March or early April to find a landing spot. I’d imagine the Falcons would be willing to bring him back at the right price, although I’d put the odds at 50-50 right now.
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson: Wreh-Wilson held up well when called upon in 2019 and should at least have the Falcons interested in bringing him back on a short-term contract. Wreh-Wilson appeared in 14 games with two starts last season, totaling 25 tackles and seven pass breakups.
FB Keith Smith: The Falcons planned to keep Ricky Ortiz if not for a preseason ankle injury. After reaching an injury settlement with Ortiz, they brought on Smith, which shows that the franchise still envisions a role for the fullback position. Smith played well last season and figures to have a shot at returning to the roster.
S Sharrod Neasman: With Neasman being a valuable player on special teams, he, like Barner, could be waiting to sign in the second wave of free agency. In addition, Neasman brings value as a backup free safety. It’s unknown where Atlanta views him at the moment.
DT Jack Crawford: Having so many needs to fill, the Falcons could take their time with Crawford once free agency begins. If that’s the case, I would have to think Crawford will be with another team in 2020.
P Matt Bosher: With the Falcons signing Sam Irwin-Hill and Ryan Allen, the writing appears to be on the wall with Bosher, who was drafted by the team in 2011.
LB/S Kemal Ishmael: As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution first reported this week, Ishmael is not expected to return to the Falcons.
LOL! On a personal note, my daughter is graduating from Wyoming this year and was a captain for WYO Soccer. She's good friends with Logan Wilson, so I'm hoping we do draft him!
(P.S. she was named All-American and Mountain West Defensive MVP her senior season! ~ sorry just had to boast to my TAFT family Proud Pops!)
Old school here. Devise an offensive scheme that utilizes the players strengths. What that ends up as a scheme and what label is applied to it does not matter. Take what you have and get the most from it. This is difficult since you have to temper the egos of over 100 men. But, it can be done.
Let me start by saying that I am fully aware that we have many holes on our team and that we are not likely to fix all or even most of them in one offseason. I know it is probably best to spread the wealth and draft/sign free agents for a number of spots.
However, what I would really like to see us do is focus one one or two areas and really turn them from a weakness to as much of a strength as we can make them. In particular, I would be totally fine if the vast majority of our focus this offseason was primarily on the DL and OL. Best available that we can get. Turn those two from weaknesses to strengths. I know we need RBs, DBs, and other positions. I get it. But it sure would be nice to know we could line up and blow people off the ball, dictate the terms and impose our will on both sides of the line of scrimmage for a change.
Very disappointed with this decision. Schaub isn't the answer. He is a very expensive backup that is eating up VERY valuable cap space. Everything Blank has done this off season has been in the mold of "lets hold it together". Not like we are talking about keeping a 12-4 playoff team together that can compete for a title in the next season or two. They are still stuck in the past (2016) with one of the NFL's oldest rosters.