The 2017 season has finally come to a close, and with it, all eyes turn to free agency and the draft. The Falcons come into the offseason armed with 6 draft selections (they traded their 5th round pick to the Broncos for OT Ty Sambrailo) and an estimated $19.3M in cap space. However, that figure only includes 35 players—making Atlanta’s financial situation fairly tight heading into 2018.
There are several areas where the Falcons could save money: Matt Ryan’s extension could free up space this season, an extension for Andy Levitre could save a few million, and players like Brooks Reed and Derrick Shelby could potentially bring in some savings by being cut.
Another player that could be on the chopping block is backup QB Matt Schaub, who has a cap hit of $4.5M heading into 2018. Schaub has been a dependable—if uninspiring—option as the QB2 for the Falcons since 2016. He’s getting older, however, and will turn 37 during the 2018 season. With money tight, Schaub’s age, and some potentially intriguing options in the 2018 NFL Draft, is now the time for the Falcons to go young at backup QB?
The answer is yes, at least in my opinion.
Schaub is a reasonable stand-in at backup QB that is familiar with the scheme and has plenty of starting experience. But let’s get real—the Falcons aren’t going to get far with Schaub at the helm of the team. An injury to Ryan would be catastrophic for the Falcons’ hopes, and Schaub doesn’t inspire any confidence.
Perhaps for a game or two, Schaub could keep the team afloat with some passable performances—particularly with the defense emerging as a true strength of the team. But if we can all agree that the season is essentially over if Ryan is injured, why spend $4.5M of the cap on an option that isn’t going to help?
The question then becomes: who do you replace him with? This draft class has generated plenty of buzz at the top with names like Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson, and Sam Darnold, but there are some intriguing options for a QB2 that could be had on Day 3.
There have already been rumblings from Falcons fans about Washington State’s Luke Falk and Memphis’ Riley Ferguson, both of whom will probably demand 5th-6th round selections. Some other names to keep an eye on are Kurt Benkert from Virginia, who has great size and arm strength (6’4, 215) and Mike White from WKU.
My personal favorite is Senior Bowl MVP Kyle Lauletta, who has often been described as the “anti-Josh Allen”. He doesn’t have a cannon arm and possesses only average size (6’3, 215), but he’s deadly accurate and makes good decisions with the football. Lauletta also has experience playing under center and is an expert at executing play-action. Did I mention he’s adept at throwing on the move? Lauletta sounds like a perfect fit to run the Falcons’ offense, and was the most impressive QB during the Senior Bowl.
It’s important to remember that none of these players are likely to come in and be ready to play at a high level immediately. There is always a significant risk in making a rookie your QB2. But with Schaub’s age, high cost, and relatively lackluster play, the risk may well be worth it for the Falcons.
What are your thoughts on the Falcons going young at QB2 in 2018? Is the potential cap savings and developmental potential worth the risk? Who is your favorite late-round QB for Atlanta?