Falcons coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot will face quite the test this offseason in terms of re-building the Atlanta Falcons roster to be Super Bowl contenders once again.
Mike Florio and Myles Simmons of Pro Football Focus discussed a handful of teams they wouldn’t want to be in right now, including the Atlanta Falcons. Simmons listed the various reason why he would stay away from Atlanta.
“You have an aging Matt Ryan, you have an aging Julio Jones, and you don’t have much cap room”, Simmons began to explain. You’ve got the fourth overall pick…which you could use to draft on a QB. You could maybe not, you could maybe turn up your offensive line or maybe get somebody on defense. I don’t necessarily know what you wanna do but, there’s a lot of work you have to do in order to get the Falcons to be in a place where they could possibly be Super Bowl contenders again, and right now, I think that’s a process that’s going to take years. And it’s not necessarily going to be done this particular year.”
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The Falcons Salary Cap Mess
Due to COVID-19, every team’s salary cap has been dropped by nearly $30K, making the new total out to be $180 million
The Falcons will have some unused cap space carry over from last year of $1.7 million, according to the NFLPA’s public salary report. However, that won’t be much help since the Falcons are already nearly $36 million over the projected cap for 2021. With a much lower salary cap this year, the Falcons will be tasked with reconstructing plays and making several hard roster cuts.
Smith and Fontenot plan to take their time, but contrary to what Simmons thinks, Smith believes the Falcons have plenty of talent to build off of to get back to being a real contender.
“It’s more than Matt and Julio (Jones),” Smith said via AtlantaFalcons.com. “There’s a lot of talented players on this roster, whether you’re talking about Chris Lindstrom, Grady Jarrett. … The roster today is gonna look different to September and as you get to Week 17. It’s a constant evolution. There’s a lot of talent here that we’ll want to build off of. But I can’t give you any snap judgments today because we’re still early in this process.”
Falcons New Coach Could Be the Missing Piece to Get Back on Track
Everybody hates changes, but the Falcons needed to make these necessary changes this year to get the franchise back to their winning ways.
For starters, Matty Ice turns 36 this season and the Falcons will likely look to this year’s draft for his replacement. This means it could be Ryan’s last season as a Falcon or, at the very least, as a starter.
However, under a new coach, Arthur Smith, who also happens to be a quarterback whisperer, Ryan might pull a Tom Brady and be around for a lot longer than we think. Smith enters the 2021 season coming off two remarkable years as the Titans offensive coordinator, where he is credited for turning around nearly washing up signal-caller, Ryan Tannehill.
With Smith calling the shots, Tannehill won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award and made the Pro Bowl in 2019. His success continued in 2020 where he posted a passer rating of 106.5 and led the Titans to an 11-5 finish and playoff appearance.
Smith’s plan is to take a similar approach with Ryan in Atlanta as he did with Tannehill in Tennessee.
Ryan might not have Derrick Henry, but he does have Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst to toss the skin too. And while they currently lack a run game, that will likely be addressed this off-season.
So, yes, while the Falcons are in salary cap “hell” but with a bunch of talent to work with, they might actually be in greater shape than Simmons says, with a new sheriff in town and all.
Watch the entire Florio and Simmons episode below:
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