Let’s take a trip down memory lane, Falcoholics. It’s August 9, 2017. Devonta Freeman and the Falcons just came to terms on a five-year contract extension that made him the NFL’s highest-paid running back. Freeman was fresh off back to back 1,000 yard rushing campaigns. 28-3 was still a fresh wound, but the future was bright, or so we hoped ...
Last week the Falcons cut Freeman, saving themselves a whopping $3 million in 2020. They turned around and signed University of Georgia alumnus Todd Gurley, committing twice that amount to him on a 1-year deal. Gurley’s health is a significant concern, and if we’re being honest, he’s not the back he once was, even when he isn’t sidelined by injury. But the Falcons are clearly hoping he can be their “lead back” in 2020.
Gurley, Brian Hill, Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, and Craig Reynolds comprise the current running back stable. There’s no reason to think Reynolds will play a significant role in 2020. Ito is sadly 1 concussion away from the end of his NFL career, so banking on him is a risky proposition. Ollison is an interesting prospect with an undeniable nose for the end zone, but he has all of 50 regular season rushing attempts, so it’s wise to temper our expectations. And if you read my stuff often, you know how bullish I am on Hill. That said, he’s struggled with inconsistency, failing to capitalize on opportunities when they’ve been handed to him.
So where do the Falcons go from here? They could roll the dice and hope the guys that are currently on the roster can get it done. Or, as insurance, they could add a running back in the draft. But if they’re going to add a running back via the draft, how early do they pull the trigger? These are the questions Thomas Dimitroff and his merry band of scouts will need to answer in the weeks ahead.
For what it’s worth, I’m inclined to think the Falcons will draft a running back. What’s more, I think they’ll adopt a slightly more aggressive approach than their norm. (Tevin Coleman’s 3rd round selection is the earliest the Falcons have drafted a running back during the Dimitroff era.) In other words, I won’t be shocked if the Falcons spend a 2nd or 3rd round pick on a running back.
Your thoughts, Falcoholics?