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Free agents to watch with ties to Dirk Koetter, Mike Mularkey and Ben Kotwica

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These players are familiar with the team’s newest coaches and coordinators and could wind up spending some time in Atlanta.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Falcons have a freshly minted offensive coordinator (even if he’s been here before) in Dirk Koetter, a brand new tight ends coach in Mike Mularkey, Dan Quinn at the helm of the defense, and a fresh face at special teams coordinator with Ben Kotwica coming over from Washington. That will hopefully mean more success across the board for the Falcons, but it’ll also mean something that may or may not be welcome depending on where you stand: Familiar faces.

Koetter was pretty shameless about bringing former Falcons with him to Tampa Bay, signing current road-tripping center Joe Hawley, running back Jacquizz Rodgers, receiver Bernard Reedy and others not on his side of the ball. Mularkey notably took Harry Douglas with him to Tennessee, Quinn has an opportunity to re-sign former Seattle pass rusher Bruce Irvin, and Kotwica has a handful of free agents from his days in Washington that might come over with him. A little digging will unearth several names who might replace back end of the roster players who we’ve grown accustomed to seeing around Atlanta.

Let’s take a look at a few names to keep in mind going forward.

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick

The Falcons have a mandate from high to win now, one suspects, given the way they’ve conducted themselves this offseason. If that’s the case, getting one of the best backup quarterbacks on the market is a logical move, and this one just so happens to have found some recent success in a Dirk Koetter offense.

Fitzpatrick would not cost significantly less than Matt Schaub, which makes him a little bit unpalatable for those of us hoping for a young, capable backup. There’s no question he can play at a higher level if push comes to shove, however, and it would be surprising if the Falcons didn’t at least sniff around his market if he can’t land a bridge starting job elsewhere.

WR Adam Humphries

If the Falcons are getting rid of Justin Hardy, as I suspect they may, Humphries may be in play as the team’s fourth receiver, depending on cost. He’s coming off a volume year where he snagged 76 catches for 816 yards and five touchdowns, meaning he may be priced out of Atlanta’s range given their current level of investment at receiver. Humphries also returned punts in Tampa Bay.

His comfort level with Koetter and chain-moving production would make him a strong replacement for Hardy, however, and a hedge against the team moving on from Mohamed Sanu post-2019.

WR Bernard Reedy

Speedy Reedy spent most of his time in Tampa Bay on the practice squad, but it’s worth noting that he kept coming back to Koetter over and over again. The Falcons are likely to let Justin Hardy walk this offseason and currently Marvin Hall is the clubhouse leader for a return gig, giving Reedy an opportunity to compete for that role and the sixth receiver job. He shouldn’t be considered a favorite for that, mind you, but it would not shock me at all to see him spending time with Atlanta this summer.

TE Luke Stocker

The pieces snap together pretty readily here. Stocker spent time with both the Dirk Koetter/Ben Steele (the new assistant Falcons tight end coach) Buccaneers and the Mularkey Titans, serving as a blocker who put together Logan Paulsen-esque production as a pass catcher. If the Falcons are looking for a cheap, capable backup tight end, as they are wont to do, Stocker’s familiarity with this coaching staff makes him an obvious favorite as a one-year signing.

T Leonard Wester

If the Falcons let go of Ryan Schraeder and replace him with some combination of Ty Sambrailo/a free agent signing/draft pick, Wester could be signed to compete for a backup role. He logged time on special teams in Tampa Bay and drew a single start at right tackle in 2018, acquitting himself decently in the process. He’s tall, solid and moves well for a tackle and is just 26 years old, and thus would seem like a logical tire kick over the summer if the Bucs don’t keep him around. He is a restricted free agent.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers

Our Kevin Knight will dive in deeper on the possibility of re-uniting with Rodgers, the hyper-useful back who came up in Atlanta while Koetter was here and followed him to Tampa Bay. Suffice to say it’s a real possibility, even if the Falcons are loaded up with talent at running back even if Tevin Coleman leaves.

LB Zach Vigil

I mentioned him yesterday in my special teams look-forward piece, but Vigil is an extremely logical signing for the Falcons with Ben Kotwica overseeing special teams. He’s a sure tackler who got extensive playing time on special teams under Kotwica in Washington, and would likely be an affordable signing to either complement or replace Kemal Ishmael.


Who else belongs on this list?