The Falcons signed A.J. McCarron after the first day of the NFL Draft, and ever since then, the coaching staff has proceeded as though he would be Matt Ryan’s backup. Through the first game and a quarter of preseason, nothing had happened to suggest that would change.
The Falcons and McCarron got awful news today, though, that after a non-contact injury suffered against the Dolphins, the veteran quarterback will miss the entire 2021 season. That’s devastating for McCarron, who will have to work his way back in 2022, and now the Falcons don’t have a backup quarterback unless Feleipe Franks somehow won them over in an uneven second preseason game.
Arthur Smith was clearly upset about the severity of the injury last night, which set an ominous note. McCarron had been playing a solid game before he went down, and suddenly the Falcons are down a veteran the coaching staff likes and have just two quarterbacks on the roster.
Atlanta now will have to explore a pretty bare free agent market to find a replacement for McCarron, or at least someone to pick up work in the preseason finale against Cleveland. I would not expect them to hand the job to Franks at this point, but he still has a week of practice and one final preseason game to make his case for it. Given the quality of competition out there, Atlanta may well elect to roll with Franks through the cutdown to a 53 man roster and then see who teams cut, but all that remains to be seen and they’ll almost certainly sign someone this week regardless.
We hope McCarron’s recovery is swift and setback-free, and we’ll see if he returns to Atlanta in 2022.