We've spent a lot of time discussing who might be cut from the Falcons in 2016, but no time at all talking about the roster locks. I thought it would be instructive to see how many players are going to stick regardless of what happens.
The players listed below will be on the Falcons in 2016, barring extremely improbable scenarios.
Whatever you think of Ryan, especially after arguably his worst season, he's going to be coming back. It would take a terrible season to shake the team's faith in him, and with a second year in the scheme and (hopefully) some upgrades on the offensive line and at receiver, I doubt he'll have one.
Devonta Freeman & Tevin Coleman
You're lucky if you have one young, dynamic back in the NFL, and the Falcons have two. Freeman will go into the season as the starter and offers so much as a pass catcher and receiver, while Coleman will hope to take a big step forward in his second season and use his speed to achieve a much better 2016 as a runner.
Julio Jones & Justin Hardy
Julio is obvious, given that he's one of the three best receivers in the NFL. Hardy is in just his second year and will be counted on as a sure-handed receiver on a team without a ton of them.
Jake Matthews & Ryan Schraeder
The Falcons have their bookend tackles. Matthews was terrific in 2015 and Schraeder was just about as good on the right side, albeit with a handful of hiccups along the way. On an unsettled line, it's nice to have the tackle situation figured out.
He's going to be a good one. Healed up after a year playing with a torn labrum, with more help on defense (one hopes), and a second year in the scheme, Beasley should be easily Atlanta's best pass rusher.
Grady Jarrett & Ra'Shede Hageman
Jarrett was mighty impressive in 2015, and with everyone else at defensive tackle either expensive, aging, or a UDFA, he should be stepping into a major role. Hageman needs to make gains in 2016, but he'll be here and should be good for 30-plus snaps per game.
Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford & Jalen Collins
These three cornerbacks will all be counted on in 2016, and we know Trufant and Alford can deliver. Hopefully Collins will be one of the team's most improved players.
I'm not sure Allen will be the team's long-term solution at free safety, but he's got enough talent to be, safety is thin, and Allen did very well for himself in 2015. He's a lock.
One of the league's best punters and most gung-ho tacklers.
Got any locks we missed?