That was a wild Monday. One day closer to the start of free agency, let’s see what moves the Falcons have made to this point, even if some of them won’t be official until Wednesday. Buckle up!
K Younghoe Koo
The Falcons will almost certainly add competition, but Koo is the favorite to nail down the kicking gig after doing well on kickoffs, hitting most of his field goals, and showing an unusual aptitude for onside kicks.
DE Steven Means
Means was a very valuable reserve in 2018, and while his 2019 was wiped out by injury, he’ll be a useful 15-25 snap per game player for the Falcons again in 2020, especially as a run stopper.
P Ryan Allen
The veteran favorite for the punter gig, Allen doesn’t have Bosher’s strong leg but did manage some beautiful coffin corner punts in 2019.
P Sam Irwin-Hill
Irwin-Hill got screwed over by a visa issue last year, but this year he’ll get the chance to compete with Allen. He has a good leg, at the very least.
OL John Wetzel
A reliable enough offensive lineman with the versatility to play multiple positions along the line, or to get cut and re-signed over and over again. That’s our John Wetzel.
FB Keith Smith
Signed to a 3 year deal, Smith figures to pave the way for the next Falcons feature back in Atlanta and help out on special teams. He’s a very good blocker, so I have more concerns about the Dirk Koetter ground game than his ability. He’ll do a fine job so long as the scheme, the offensive line, and the backs running behind him are all doing a fine job, as well.
DT Tyeler Davison
Davison was a stone solid run defender a year ago on the interior, and should remain so for the next couple of years in Atlanta. Getting him back helps the Falcons focus on pass rushers along the defensive line, as they have plenty of capable run stoppers at defensive end and defensive tackle now.
TE Hayden Hurst
The most stunning move of the day on Monday was this trade, and it wasn’t particularly close. Fresh off losing Austin Hooper to Cleveland, the Falcons swapped a 2nd and 5th rounder in 2020 to the Ravens for Hayden Hurst and a 4th rounder. The 2nd stings, but Hurst is a promising pass catcher in want of a larger opportunity, which he’ll get as the featured tight end in Atlanta.
If he can slot in as a high-level option for the next 2-3 years in Atlanta, he’ll be worth the price, and judging from early looks he has the upside to be as useful as Hooper. If not...well, this regime won’t be here to see it.
CB Desmond Trufant
This hasn’t happened yet, but when Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport are reporting it, chances are good it’s a virtual lock. Trufant has been the team’s top cornerback for years now, but the team figures to move forward with a younger group, with a draft pick likely to join Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver.
RB Devonta Freeman
The Falcons have been waiting for the new CBA to make this move, and as expected they cut ties with their long-time starting running back. Freeman is still a useful player
OL Ty Sambrailo
This was another expected move. Sambrailo was a fine reserve tackle, but the Falcons wanted some cap relief and can find an affordable replacement pretty easily, if Matt Gono doesn’t lose out on the left guard battle and take on the swing tackle role himself. We’ll always have the touchdown.
TE Luke Stocker
Another cap-related move, cutting Stocker gets the Falcons back $2.6 million and change. At least some of that money will likely go toward a different veteran tight end, seeing as how they still could use another veteran to pair with Hurst and Jaeden Graham.
Eh, we’ll pass
DE Vic Beasley
The team took the unusual step of putting out a whole story about their desire to not even negotiate with Beasley, which comes after a nightmare season where Beasley finished the year strong but had a weak first half playing on a $12.8 million fifth year option. The Falcons banked on Beasley
WR Justin Hardy
Hardy has been a useful blocker, reserve receiver, and special teamer for a long time now, but the Falcons added a lot of interesting young talent last offseason and this is a deep, intriguing class of receivers, so Hardy is moving on. Expect the Falcons to draft someone on Day 3 to help replace him.
S Kemal Ishmael
The Falcons are not planning to re-sign Ishmael, who had spent years with the team as a reserve and critical special teamer. They’ll likely be looking to overhaul safety and linebacker depth in 2020.
TE Austin Hooper
This was the big one, of course. Hooper signed a 4 year, $44 million deal with $23 million guaranteed in the first two seasons to play with Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, getting off the market quickly and to a new home. This was expected after the Falcons allowed him to test the market, and sparked the subsequent trade for Hayden Hurst, which will be finalized on Wednesday.
Obviously, more moves to come in the days ahead, so stay tuned for more coverage!