Happy Monday, everybody. Lots of news on the Falcons front over the past few days, so read on and get caught up with today’s edition of Falcoholinks.
A Decisive Draft
Dan Quinn enters his fifth year at the head coaching helm with increased responsibilities and his Atlanta future hanging in the balance. As the Falcons’ new de facto defensive coordinator, Quinn will be calling the defensive plays on top of his regular in-game duties; and his ability (or inability) to turn around the defense will be a decisive factor for his continued tenure as the Falcons’ head coach.
That begins with the 2019 NFL Draft, where the team is expected to lean heavily on defensive selections. Building a defense is one of the major reasons that Quinn was brought on board in the first place, and should there be no such improvement in 2019, there’s a strong chance that Dan Quinn loses his job.
With a focus on defense in the draft, the best place to start will be in the trenches — and the Falcons should expend a solid chunk of their draft capital on investments up front.
A New Deal for Julio?
On Friday, rumors began to circulate that the Falcons were very close to signing Julio Jones to a new contract, one that would make him the highest paid wide receiver in the NFL. Atlanta famously kicked the can down the road last year with Julio’s deal, so this is one of the franchise’s top offseason priorities.
The word is that the Falcons are closing in on an extension for Julio that will net him around $20 million a season. That move, while costly, will provide the Falcons with some short-term cap flexibility (and of course keep the league’s top wide receiver in red and black for awhile).
The Falcons’ latest free agent signing is a very familiar one, as they elected to bring back wide receiver Justin Hardy on a one-year deal. Aside from any late round draft selections, Hardy’s return rounds up the wide receiver corps for the 2019 season.
Very welcome news on the injury front, as Falcons’ free safety Ricardo Allen has returned to the practice field for the first time since tearing his Achilles. The Falcons were already taking on water by the time Allen went down against the Saints in September, and his season-ending injury was pretty much the nail in the coffin for Atlanta’s defense.
Getting both Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal back at full strength will do worlds for the Falcons’ prospects of fielding a strong defense.