I’ll freely admit I was excited by the Ron Parker signing earlier this summer. Parker had a track record of quality play as a starter at the safety position and figure to be one hell of a fourth safety, even if his drop-off in play last season for the Chiefs loomed as a bit of a concern.
I did not think we’d find ourselves in the present moment, with Parker cut by the Falcons and replaced by former second round safety Jordan Richards, who the Falcons acquired from the Patriots in exchange for a conditional draft pick earlier today. Yet here we are.
Parker was likely undone by middling special teams play and middling play on defense throughout the preseason. He had missed tackles, bad angles and poor coverage, and while it’s only preseason, that seemed to be enough to spook the Falcons. Parker may well land on another team and find a backup role, but that preseason performance was not what any of us expected.
The Falcons do have one of the better safety trios in the league, regardless of who is #4. Keanu Neal is a physical playmaker, Ricardo Allen a savvy and aggressive safety who serves as a safety net of sorts for this defense, and Damontae Kazee looked absolutely brilliant in preseason. Parker wasn’t going to find his way to a ton of playing time on defense, and that as much as his play probably helped make the decision for Atlanta.
Richards will flat out replace Parker as Keanu Neal’s backup, and he’ll be a core part of the special teams puzzle. I don’t know that Richards is a better safety than Parker—I’d wager he’s not—but Parker wasn’t able to play as well as I’m sure he would have liked to, and the Falcons decided they’d rather have a younger player with a different skill set. We wish Parker well, wherever he winds up.