Free agency has kicked off in the NFL. Spending is subdued thanks to a dramatic cut in cap space after years of double digit increases. This is hurting a number of teams, including the Falcons, who would have been fairly limited even if the cap went up like normal. This is going to force the team to rely heavily on the draft and undrafted players, while hoping they can grab some cheap veterans in the next few months.
Let’s get right into free agency. Or what passes for free agency these days.
You guys really thought David Andrews was gonna sign with the Falcons?— Peaga ° (@_PHonly) March 20, 2021
I sure did not. Short of the Falcons finding another $10 million in cap space, this team cannot be competitive when other teams are in on players. I knew the Falcons were out the second there was a mention of multiple teams interested in David Andrews. I don’t think a lot of players will want to sign cheap to a team with so many question marks. Can Arthur Smith coach? Will Ryan be the quarterback in 2022? Is there even a defense? Do players get a discount at The Varsity?
Tough to turn down more money when the answer to all of those may be no.
F, marry, kill: Arthur smith, Arthur blank, fontenot— Chris Cook (@ChrisCookOnline) March 20, 2021
SB Nation’s legal team emphatically states that I cannot, under any circumstance, answer this question. However, I am allowed to say my answer is surprising, or in their legal opinion, “shocking to its core.”
Every season the Falcons have ever played has ended with a "Welp, maybe next year." What makes this year more likely to be the year of "finally"? What makes it less likely? How many maybes can one endure before an emotional prolapse?— Atl Sports Guy (@AtlSportsGuy2) March 20, 2021
What a deep series of questions. I understand it is hard to get excited about this upcoming season with the Falcons unable to sign anyone you have heard of.
There are a handful of reasons this could be Atlanta’s year. For starters, each season is completely unpredictable (except for the final conclusion, of course). The most pessimistic I had been in quite some time was going into the 2016 season. That season was perfect until... that thing happened. Analysts were saying that Matt Ryan was done, the team had no pass rush, and the offensive coordinator was completely unproven. There are some similarities to this season. Most importantly, it is pretty common to see big turn arounds under new staffs. Look at Cleveland last year. More recently the Rams. It happens, and Ryan was an MVP in a similar scheme. Good chance they surprise.
What makes winning it all less likely is all the same reasons we have seen for the last 20 years.
When will we find happiness in the dark.....ORRRRRR favorite taco place— Neutral Milk Tea Hotel (@james_art_do) March 20, 2021
The answer to both is Taco Bell.
Who is left in FA that can truly help?— Wesley gaier (@gaier_wesley) March 20, 2021
There are a LOT of players left that can truly help. Ones the Falcons can afford? That’s a different story. Terry Fontenot will have to work some magic in April, and likely May and June, grabbing some players coming off of injuries or veterans with a little gas left in the tank. On the positive side, Fontenot has some good history doing exactly this. Imagine someone similar to Jadaveon Clowney. I’m not sure if the Falcons can afford him, but he’s had some injuries and has not been taking down the quarterback when healthy. Teams aren’t going to want to offer up much money when the Titans did last year, he was ineffective, then hurt. Add a handful of similar players and a few should be able to help.
It's the apocalypse. The Falcoholic staff is trapped and surrounded by zombies. There's only one way to escape: sacrifice someone to distract the walkers. Who do you sacrifice, and why?— Andrew Hirsh (@andrewhirsh) March 20, 2021
We sacrifice one writer while the rest run to freedom? Running is really tough on the joints so I would have to sacrifice the rest of the staff so I can walk to safety. Sorry to Dave, Jenny, and... the rest of them. I’m sure as they are torn apart limb from limb they know it was for the greater good.
I’m not sorry for DW. HE KNOWS WHAT HE DID.
Is it possible that Terry Fontenot is secretly destroying the falcons on behalf of the Saints? The lack of moves is frankly embarrassing, even with lack of cap space.— W X S Σ (@thxprxdxgy) March 21, 2021
Never put anything past a Saint but the person to blame is Thomas Dimitroff. I would never defend Dimitroff... but in his defense, if the cap acted like normal, the Falcons would have had about $25 million in cap space before making any moves. It wasn’t a normal year and Atlanta is really regretting all those deals. I’d recommend giving Fontenot more than a few days of free agency without cap space before passing judgment.
Forget the FA, lets fill the roster with draft picks and UDFA.— Julio (@JuliocMontoyaa) March 20, 2021
This is what the Falcons have to do! Also a good point regarding UDFAs. You will typically see more UDFAs under a new regime as they churn the roster to meet their new scheme. Considering the team’s cap problems, we may see even more UDFAs making the roster than normal.
I may be a bit down on the Falcons due to their cap problems. They have some space. However, they still need to sign their rookie class. Spotrac estimates the Falcons will need over $12 million to do that (a trade down makes this number lower). The Falcons need another dozen or so players just to fill out the roster. At primarily vet minimum, we are close to another $12 million. Need a few million to cover for injury replacements. This is why the Falcons are broke.
Let’s celebrate some UDFAs who will certainly be playing a good number of snaps in 2021.
When Matt Ryan wins the MVP and Super Bowl this season will he finally get the respect he deserves?— ɴɪᴄᴋ ᴘᴇɴᴛɪᴄᴏꜰꜰ (@NickPenticoff) March 20, 2021
If Ryan ever gets respect then I will be shocked.
If we were to trade back into the 1st round for an edge rusher who would it be?— Matthew Aloisi (@MatthewAloisi) March 20, 2021
We have gotta remember the Falcons are unlikely to be trading up for a single position. Fontenot, if he is truly about the best player available, will let the pass rush suffer if it means he is adding top talent at other positions. Dimitroff drafted for need and it rarely meant the Falcons were balanced. You can see the problem when the Falcons coughed up an extra third-round pick to trade up for Takk McKinley and a third-round pick for Kaleb McGary. If those players don’t turn into Pro Bowlers, that extra draft capital starts to really, really hurt. Two years in and we still aren’t sure if McGary is even better than his backup.
I think we may see a trade up only if someone like Micah Parsons drops because teams are scared he doesn’t have a true position.
Pitts or sewell?— mjeezyca (@mjeezyca) March 20, 2021
I’m a bigger fan of Pitts due to his value compared to the rest of the draft but it would be hard to call either the wrong move if the Falcons stick at 4.
That’s all we have for today. Send your Qs to falcoholicmailbag at gmail dot com or follow along on Twitter.