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Where the Falcons roster stands with about a week until free agency

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Let’s visualize the holes the Falcons need to fill in 2018.

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons have a handful of legitimate holes, and they opened up two more when they cut Levine Toilolo and Derrick Shelby late last week. It’s still one of the stronger rosters in football, but it’s increasingly clear that the Falcons can’t just glide through free agency and use their six draft picks and expect to improve over a year ago. They’re going to need to re-sign some of their better free agents and hit the market, however tepidly, to pick up some more pieces. Thankfully, free agency kicks off in a week.

I’ve broken this down by who is currently under contract, who is headed to free agency (not counting released Derrick Shelby and Levine Toilolo, who are not part of the team’s plans), and then a ranking of team needs. Let’s discuss as we edge closer to free agency.

Offense

QB Matt Ryan
QB Matt Schaub
QB Garrett Grayson

RB Devonta Freeman
RB Tevin Coleman

WR Julio Jones
WR Mohamed Sanu
WR Justin Hardy
WR Marvin Hall
WR Reggie Davis

TE Austin Hooper
TE Eric Saubert
TE Alex Gray

OT Jake Matthews
OT Ryan Schraeder
OT Ty Sambrailo

OG Andy Levitre
OG Wes Schweitzer
OG Sean Harlow

OC Alex Mack

OL Daniel Brunskill

Defense

DE Vic Beasley
DE Takkarist McKinley
DE Brooks Reed
DE J’Terius Jones

DT Grady Jarrett
DT Jack Crawford
DT Taniela Tupou
DT Joey Ivie

LB Deion Jones
LB De’Vondre Campbell
LB Duke Riley

CB Desmond Trufant
CB Robert Alford
CB Brian Poole
CB Deante Burton

S Keanu Neal
S Damontae Kazee
S Sharrod Neasman
S Marcelis Branch

Special Teams

K Matt Bryant

P Matt Bosher

LS Josh Harris


Falcons Free Agents

RB Terron Ward (RFA)
RB Terrence Magee

FB Derrick Coleman

WR Taylor Gabriel
WR Nick Williams
WR Andre Roberts

OG/OC Ben Garland
OG Jamil Douglas

OT Austin Pasztor

DE Adrian Clayborn
DE/DT Courtney Upshaw

DT Ahtyba Rubin
DT Dontari Poe

LB LaRoy Reynolds
LB Kemal Ishmael
LB Sean Weatherspoon

CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
CB Leon McFadden

S Ricardo Allen (RFA)


Team Needs

Defensive Tackle

Currently, the Falcons have one above average starter in Grady Jarrett, a useful rotational piece in Jack Crawford, and two youngish interior defensive linemen in Taniela Tupou and Joey Ivie. They will need, at minimum, to add two players to this group.

Guard

The team’s only reserve interior lineman at the moment is unproven (Sean Harlow), and the team would presumably like both a long-term replacement for Andy Levitre and a potential short-term replacement for Wes Schweitzer.

Tight End

Atlanta’s got a capable young starter with upside in Austin Hooper, but a team that loves to run two tight end sets needs more established/high-upside options than Eric Saubert and Alex Gray behind him.

Defensive End

With Derrick Shelby gone and Courtney Upshaw and Adrian Clayborn on the market, the Falcons need good players to add to their rotation. Re-signing Clayborn will help, but that won’t be enough by itself unless the Falcons really love J’Terius Jones.

Cornerback

The Falcons have a strong top three but need more bodies, at minimum, and there have been rumblings that they’d like to give Brian Poole some competition for nickel duties in 2018.

Wide Receiver

You may want to move this one up the list. I like Marvin Hall and Reggie Davis as speedy, young receivers with room to grow, and Justin Hardy feels perenially under-utilized. The team still likely needs a deep threat and third receiver, and those two may wind up being the same player.