Analysis

Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Outlook

Atlanta Falcons Free Agency Preview

Atlanta finished their first season under head coach Arthur Smith with a mediocre 7-10 record while finishing third in the NFC South. They finished with their worst point differential (-146) since 2007 but despite this found hope in some of their younger core players. Chris Linstrom, A.J. Terrell, and Kyle Pitts all played exceptionally well. On top of that, some of their veteran players played better than expected, as Cordarrelle Patterson finished with over 1000 combined rushing/receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. Heading into the offseason they currently are $7.3 million over the cap and 8 picks in the 2022 draft, four of them being inside the top 100 picks. 

Update: The Falcons now have $4,200,017 available in cap space.

Atlanta’s Impending Free Agents:

  • LB Foyesade Oluokun
  • S Duron Harmon
  • CB Fabian Moreau
  • S Erik Harris
  • EDGE Steven Means 
  • WR Russell Gage 
  • WR Olamide Zaccheaus (RFA)
  • WR Tajae Sharpe
  • WR Cordarrelle Patterson 
  • EDGE Dante Fowler Jr. (SFA)
  • TE Hayden Hurst
  • LS Josh Harris
  • TE Lee Smith
  • EDGE Brandon Copeland
  • K Younghoe Koo (RFA)
  • IDL Anthony Rush (RFA)
  • IDL Mike Pennel 
  • P Thomas Morstead
  • IDL Jonathan Bullard
  • S Shawn Williams
  • WR Chrsitian Blake (RFA)
  • LT Jason Spriggs
  • RG Colby Gossett (ERFA)
  • RB Qadree Ollison (ERFA)
  • QB Josh Rosen
  • LB Emmanuel Ellerbee
  • LB Daren Bates
  • TE Jaeden Graham (RFA)
  • C Josh Andrews
  • QB A.J. McCarron
  • DE Duke Ejiofor

The most important players for Atlanta to aim to retain their current free agent candidates are: Foyesade Oluokun, Younghoe Koo, and Patterson. Their current cap situation may not allow them to retain all three but retaining two of the three is a necessity for their club. Oluokun led their team and NFL in total tackles (192), solo tackles (102), and was tied-first in interceptions (3) and outplayed Deion Jones in all areas of the field.

Koo hit all 30 extra points he attempted and went 27 of 29 on FGs this season and is one of the best young kickers in the NFL at age 27. Lastly, Patterson is the last player they should prioritize resigning from this group. His age (30) is a concern as well as his late career bloom into a dynamic offensive chess piece but with little to no other weapons on offense without him (assuming Calvin Ridley is traded), resigning him to a 2 or 3 year deal would keep a dynamic playmaker on the offense. 

Franchise Tag:

  • LB Foyesade Oluokun
  • K Younghoe Koo

I touched upon why I believe Atlanta needs to re-sign these guys above but Oluokun and Koo are the only two feasible franchise tag candidates for Atlanta. Both are young stars for this team who are entering their prime. Koo’s franchise tag would be $5.47 million and Oluokun’s franchise tag would be $17.42 million. 

Update: The Falcons elected to not use their franchise tag this offseason.

Top Team Needs:

  1. EDGE
  2. Wide Receiver
  3. Cornerback
  4. OT
  5. IOL

Edge rushers are arguably the second most important position in football behind the quarterback position. Atlanta lacks any threat off the edge and just released their sack leader from the 2021 season, Dante Fowler Jr. Outside of Fowler, no edge player on Atlanta had more than 2.0 sacks.

At wide receiver, Atlanta has no legitimate #1 wide receiver candidates on their roster outside of Ridley, who is expected to be traded this offseason. Even if they resign Russell Gage or Patterson, neither of them are true #1 receivers and they need to find a player to replicate the responsibilities Julio Jones had when he was still a part of their team.

Lastly, adding depth and a compliment across from Terrell in the secondary is their final big team need. Fabian Moreau played well but isn’t their long term solution and is an impending free agent this offseason. Outside of Terrell their current cornerback room looks bleak and needs to be refreshed through the draft but missing on another highly drafted corner, like Isaiah Oliver, can’t happen again. 

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