The Atlanta Falcons are gearing up for a trip up to Philly to get things going for 2018, but one last bit of summer business remains.
Who, exactly, is going to hold down the last roster spot?
We’ve done a bit of speculating here at The Falcoholic as to who could be out there to fill the gap. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, that decision might already be set, at least somewhat.
No. They are apparently holding the spot for a vested veteran, so we’re expecting after the first game so the salary is not guaranteed for the season. https://t.co/3eUUjNxMJJ— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) September 2, 2018
Them wanting to get a veteran without the fully-guaranteed salary for that slot would give good clarification as to why the team stood pat at the waiver wire corral this afternoon.
The Name Game
Ledbetter brought up DE Michael Johnson, formerly of the Bengals and a Georgia Tech standout, and RB Aaron Ripkowski as two potential targets. Johnson is re-signing with the Bengals, however, so cross that one off.
Ripkowski made himself known to Falcons fans when his red zone fumble sparked Atlanta into an otherworldly zone in that storied NFC Championship Game. Though, he once won the job in Green Bay under that organization’s tight watch, and he’s only 25. The Falcons appear to be happy with Ricky Ortiz at the moment for the fullback spot, though.
We’ve noted Minnesota DE Brian Robison is available if they’re keying in on a veteran edge, as is Super Bowl 50 standout Kony Ealy. So is March link DE Robert Ayers Jr., who was randomly with the Lions for like half a day this past week.
Ayers is a versatile rusher and run support guy who was with the Bucs last season. Could Atlanta have wanted the summer to evaluate things on the defensive line before adding him in September? He’s still got it judging by how he looked against the Falcons last fall.
Another random name to consider would be DE Cornelius Washington, the former Georgia Bulldog and Detroit Lion. He’s only 28 and has had a handful of sacks in his five-year career. Washington could be a good depth guy and special teamer, though he lacks the production of the guys above. His addition sure would make a lot of folks in Athens happy.
The older free agent veterans around the league are Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. Those guys could be solid depth for the fifth edge spot.
If you can tell, this is where we feel this spot is probably going to go, but the Falcons could surprise. Watch out for the running back spot to field a potential shock veteran addition if the team doesn’t feel Ito Smith is ready for prime time just yet.
We might not know until after Philly where this spot goes, but whoever it is sounds like they’ll be at least somewhat of a factor for the team down the road if veteran status is preferred.