Yesterday was unsurprisingly an insanely busy day in the NFL. Left tackles were traded, players were given tenders of every round imaginable, and Drew Brees’ agent got a call from the Vikings. The day had it all.
All, that is, except for major rumors surrounding the Falcons. As we’ll outline a little later this morning, Atlanta didn’t need to be hyper-active in free agency this year. We just had hoped they might land a couple of mid-tier guys, but with each passing day, even that possibility seems to decrease thanks to limited cap space. Thankfully, the roster is already quite strong as is, but I’m still nervous about the defensive line.
With that preamble out of the way, let’s take a closer look at what happened Monday.
What happened for the Falcons
- Atlanta tendered both Ricardo Allen and Ben Garland at the second round level. That ties up close to $5.9 million in 2018 cap dollars into those two players, and I have to assume that Allen will start and Garland will at least compete to start. The Falcons may well either forego drafting a guard in 2018 or push Sean Harlow out the door to make room for one. Either way, their cap space is now even more limited, meaning they’ll need to get creative with their signings once free agency opens up.
This also continues to add credence to the idea that the Falcons will select a defensive tackle in the first round, assuming a quality one is available.
- The Falcons continued to be linked to Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who seems to want to play for Atlanta rather badly. Given the team’s limited cap space, he’ll have to take a pretty reasonable deal to join the team, but he’d give the Falcons two legitimate pass-catching options at the position. Tight end is a key position in Steve Sarkisian’s scheme.
- The Falcons were reportedly going to bring back Terrence Magee, a deep reserve running back in 2018, on an original round tender. It remains to be seen whether they’ll do so, however.
What happened league-wide
- The Bills swapped left tackle Cordy Glenn to the Bengals and moved up a bit in the traffic, giving them more ammo to go up and get their quarterback of the future. Glenn was expendable in Buffalo thanks to rookie Dion Dawkins, while the Bengals get a sorely-needed tackle. It’s a good move for both sides, though if Buffalo legitimately lands a franchise quarterback, it’ll look even better for them.
- Drew Brees still doesn’t have a contract in New Orleans, and the Vikings evidently reached out to his agent, per NFL reporter Tom Pelissero. Brees leaving New Orleans would be sort of amazing on many levels, but I wouldn’t necessarily love to see him land in Minnesota, either.
- The Buccaneers reportedly signed tight end Cameron Brate to a six year extension, just a year after they drafted tight end O.J. Howard in the first round. I don’t think this team’s brain trust has a bright future in Tampa Bay, to put it bluntly.
What we expect today
If Atlanta has any other priority free agents internally, I expect they’ll get contracts done today. LaRoy Reynolds at linebacker, Sharrod Neasman (an exclusive rights free agent) at safety, and Courtney Upshaw and Ahtyba Rubin on the defensive line seem like the most likely beneficiaries of small deals to stay in Atlanta. If the Falcons could get most of those guys locked up, their job is pretty simple going forward: Land a tight end, land multiple defensive tackles, get a rotational defensive end, and add a third receiver/kick returner and you can reasonably argue the roster is in good shape for 2018, though there will still be small missing pieces.
Expect Atlanta to be a lot quieter than most teams, given their space, and you’ll make it through today just fine.