The Falcons have to do any number of things this offseason to ensure they contend in 2020, given the alternative is a year-delayed staff wipeout and a waste of yet another year. The problem is that they don’t have the time or money to do everything.
With that in mind, members of The Falcoholic staff identified their three biggest offseason priorities for Atlanta. Share yours with us, too!
Bring back Austin Hooper, draft a center, draft a pass rusher
There are so many moves the Falcons should make and even have to make that narrowing down to three is difficult. Even so, there are some that rise above the rest.
The Falcons may be able to survive on offense with Austin Hooper, but it won’t be pretty. Hoop’s become one of the offense’s more essential players with his well-rounded game, and the Falcons should aim to keep him around to help make Matt Ryan’s twilight years as productive as possible.
The team should also look to draft its next great center and pass rusher this year. That center may be able to sit for a season behind Alex Mack, but this team doesn’t want to take the chance that 2021 rolls around, Mack is moving on, and they don’t have a compelling replacement. They need a pass rusher who can contribute a high level immediately, too, with so many free agents, Vic Beasley almost certainly moving on, and Takk McKinley badly needing a quality bookend. -Dave Choate
Add a significant chess piece at edge rusher, keep Hooper in the fold, add another pass rushing piece (no, seriously)
Hooper has improved in catches, yards, and touchdown receptions in every season as an Atlanta Falcon. His fourth season on the farm should have earned him a Pro Bowl berth but we’ll save the conversation for later. Head coach Dan Quinn preaches ‘continuity’ so it only makes sense for the team to reward Hooper with a valued contract to keep the weapon in the fold alongside Matt Ryan and Julio Jones.
As far as the pass rushing goes, simply put, I’m tired. The mediocrity in this particular department is depressing. There are two constants for most teams during this time of the season that usually equates to postseason runs: the ability to run the football and the ability to take down the opposing quarterback. Right now, I’m more focused on putting together a defensive line that can close out games. It’s a beautiful sight in San Francisco. The same in Green Bay. Even the Chiefs are finding a pass rush push this late in the season. Some turnover is going to happen at defensive end this offseason so it’s imperative that the front office stockpiles at the position. - Eric Robinson
Keep Hooper, add an edge rusher, get a linebacker
I know some of this is repetitive and for good reason. Some of these moves are just no-brainers. Keeping Hooper should be the priority for the off-season. Yes, he is not a George Kittle or Travis Kelce. However, he is one of Matt Ryan’s favorite targets and he is highly productive in our offense. There’s no reason to overthink that. Playing the value vs. pay game is pointless here. We also know that letting Vic Beasley walk is a near certainty, but there’s also a good chance we won’t be able to keep Adrian Clayborn. That depletes our depth and finding a good edge rusher is going to be important.
My last point is one we shouldn’t overlook. Deion Jones is clearly here for the long-term. However, with De’Vondre Campbell likely heading for free agency, the team needs to think seriously about adding another high quality player next to Debo. I love what Foye Oluokun has done in his first two years, but I’m not sure he’s going to turn into a Pro-Bowl caliber player. Adding another speedy, hard-hitting coverage linebacker could transform this defense, especially in a league that features tight ends and pass catching running backs more than ever. - David Walker