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Looking at the Falcons roster after the first flurry of free agent signings

Atlanta’s trio of additions has been affordable veterans who fill specific needs on the roster.

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

With the first few days of free agency over, the Falcons have added three new players to their 2021 roster. That means it’s time to take a fresh look at where we’ve been and where we’re going, so let’s get to it.

Offense

QB Matt Ryan

RB Ito Smith

RB Qadree Ollison

RB Tony Brooks-James

FB Keith Smith

WR Julio Jones

WR Calvin Ridley

WR Russell Gage

WR Olamide Zaccheaus

WR Christian Blake

TE Hayden Hurst

TE Lee Smith

TE Jaeden Graham

OT Jake Matthews

OT Kaleb McGary

OG Chris Lindstrom

OG Willie Wright

OC Matt Hennessy


The Falcons did, as predicted, nab a veteran tight end. They just did so via trade, swapping a conditional 7th round pick to Buffalo for Lee Smith, a 33 year old block-first option who is admittedly very good at what he does. If Smith sticks, he’ll work to open lanes for the running back committee in Atlanta, which is obviously unfinished.

They have yet to address the offensive line, though that has to be coming, alongside their needs at running back, backup quarterback, and potentially at wide receiver, where the new regime may want different depth. Atlanta’s not even close to done here, in other words.

Defense

DE Dante Fowler Jr.

DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

DT Grady Jarrett

DT Marlon Davidson

DT Tyeler Davison

DT John Cominsky

DT Deadrin Senat

DT Chris Slayton

LB Deion Jones

LB Foye Oluokun

LB Mykal Walker

LB Brandon Copeland

LB Edmond Robinson

CB A.J. Terrell

CB Isaiah Oliver

CB Kendall Sheffield

CB Delrick Abrams Jr.

CB Chris Williamson

S Erik Harris

S Jaylinn Hawkins

S T.J. Green


The most impactful additions Atlanta’s made to this point have come on this side of the ball, though “impactful” might be a stretch.

Erik Harris could start at a safety spot but has an affordable contract that suggests the Falcons would be most comfortable with him as a backup and core special teamer. Brandon Copeland will be linebacker depth and will likely be asked to chip in as a pass rusher at times in the hopes that he can re-live his productive 2018 days with the Jets. Both are quality, cheap additions to a defense that needs all the help it can get, but not likely to be impact players.

Expect a lot more of that going forward, given that the team needs more pass rushing help, more safety depth, and more help at cornerback at minimum, all within a budget crunch. They’re not done adding just because their dollars are limited, but again, you should expect the players they add to be primarily depth options or stopgap starters when the market settles.

Special Teams

K Younghoe Koo

P Sterling Hofrichter

P Dom Maggio

LS Josh Harris


Nothing has changed here, and nothing’s likely to change here in the near future. Atlanta may well add kicker or punter competition—they took a hard look at Georgia Tech’s Pressley Harvin III the other day—but that’s likely it. There’s still a need for a returner.

What’s next?

Saying “more of the same” suggests there will be no surprises and mostly players joining up on the veteran minimum, which may not prove to be accurate once the big money has flown around and free agency quiets down, allowing for more bargains. I would say, though, that Atlanta’s commitment to frugality and veteran players they have some level of familiarity with won’t change.

With that in mind, expect a focus on need. As Cory Woodroof wrote this morning, the team was reportedly interested in David Andrews at center, suggesting the interior of the offensive line will be a near-future priority. The holes on the roster in the secondary, along the defensive line, and at running back will also be addressed between now in the draft, if the team’s stated commitment to drafting the best player available regardless of need is to be believed. It may not be today and it may not be tomorrow, but Atlanta will continue to make moves, hopefully with the aid of additional money freed up by a justified Grady Jarrett extension.