One of the most upsetting developments of Falcons free agency was watching Pro Bowl fullback Patrick DiMarco sign a big deal with the Buffalo Bills. At the time, we were curious about what the team planned to do at the position.
The answer appears to be not much.
We now know that the Falcons had a plan that involved using most of their cap space to shore up other parts of the roster and land Dontari Poe, and that DiMarco probably would’ve needed to take less to stay. While the offense isn’t going to be vastly different under Steve Sarkisian, there is reason to believe that fullback will fade into the background a bit, with an even greater emphasis on tight ends.
What will the Falcons do, then, at fullback? As I see it, the team has a couple of options.
The first is to go bargain shopping, in effect. This would involve the team waiting out the market, which is already pretty quiet, and getting a player like Jerome Felton on a cheap, one year deal. Felton isn’t a great fullback at this stage of his career, but he’s a capable one, and with the amount of run he’s likely to get, he would be a worthwhile addition on a low-cost contract. For what it’s worth, Vaughn McClure at ESPN has urged us to keep an eye on him.
The second option is to take a player already available to the Falcons and utilize him as a fullback. If the Falcons are focused on an athletic profile and a well-rounded skill set more than a traditional, bruising blocker role, you will want to keep an eye on the team’s set of tight ends. D.J. Tialavea could be a part-time option as a blocking tight end who lines up as a quasi-fullback, and I’d even suggest Terron Ward could get a long look at fullback given his rushing, pass catching, and improving blocking ability.
Either way, don’t expect to have a good grasp on how this position is going to shake out until after the draft, because it just isn’t going to be the priority it was when DiMarco was in town.