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Falcons 2022 free agent targets: Quarterback

If the draft isn’t the plan, Atlanta will dip into free agency for a backup quarterback.

Cincinnati Bengals v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

We’ve reached the end of our series looking at free agent targets, and we’ve done so just a couple of weeks before free agency actually starts. I can’t wait.

This position will be perhaps the least interesting one we’ll profile, because A) there aren’t exactly a ton of exciting quarterbacks out there on the open market and B) we’re talking about a backup because the Falcons are heavily indicating they’re sticking with Matt Ryan in 2022. Last year Atlanta ran out and grabbed A.J. McCarron and then Josh Rosen, though, so they may well dip into free agency again to snag a backup rather than draft one, especially if they’re planning on involving Feleipe Franks to some extent in their plan for the position.

Let’s take a closer look at who’s out there.

High-end starters: N/A


There are no impending free agent quarterbacks who are high-level starters. Jameis Winston is the closet thing to one given that he’s not old, was playing quite well for the Saints last year, and so on, but you’re not getting a great starting option out of free agency. That’s pretty typical.

Stopgap starters/high-level reserves

  • Jameis Winston, 28
  • Cam Newton, 33
  • Jacoby Brissett, 29
  • Teddy Bridgewater, 29
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, 39
  • Mitch Trubisky, 27
  • Marcus Mariota, 28
  • Tyrod Taylor, 32

I mentioned Winston, and Winston would be at the top of the list if the Falcons actually wound up needing a stopgap starter, which is unlikely. He was off to a terrific start with the Saints last year before he got injured and is a starting-caliber quarterback with a great arm. It’d be difficult for the Falcons to lure him in to ask him to sit after he already sacrificed a whole season to do that in New Orleans, but obviously he’d be a great get.

Trubisky is the other really interesting player here. He has ties to Dave Ragone and Charles London on the coaching staff and Ryan Pace from the front office, and he has the requisite athleticism and arm to be appealing to Arthur Smith. If the Falcons aren’t sold on keeping Ryan after 2022, Trubisky signing a multi-year deal to back him up this year and push for a starting role in 2023 when he’s still just 28 years old could be an option, but that does seem like somewhat of a far-fetched scenario. He’d be a quality backup, either way.

I’d welcome Bridgewater, Mariota or Taylor as one-year backup options, but Bridgewater in particular will probably be hunting for another starting job. None of them have killer arms but they can all move effectively in the pocket and are reliable, proven options with starting experience who could capably hold down the fort if Ryan ever had to miss any time.

Reserves

  • A.J. McCarron, 31
  • Josh Rosen, 25 (RFA)
  • Chad Henne, 37
  • Joe Flacco, 37
  • Tim Boyle, 27
  • Blaine Gabbert, 32
  • Brandon Allen, 29
  • Mike Glennon, 32
  • Geno Smith, 31
  • Chase Daniel, 35
  • Brian Hoyer, 36
  • Josh Dobbs, 27
  • Mike White, 27 (RFA)
  • Trevor Siemian, 30
  • Sean Mannion, 30
  • Kyle Allen, 26
  • Colt McCoy, 35

If you’ve been jonesing to have the quarterback class of 2008 reunite in Atlanta, well, now’s your chance. Both Flacco and Henne are out there just waiting to back up Matt Ryan, and while both have seen the best days of their careers come and go, that would at least be kinda fun.

It seems miles likelier that the Falcons will choose to keep McCarron or Rosen around. McCarron was on track to be Matt Ryan’s backup before he got injured and the staff clearly likes him, while Rosen didn’t do a hell of a lot but is still just 25 and stuck on the roster throughout the year. A little affordable continuity goes a long way sometimes, and if the Falcons like Ryan, Feleipe Franks and one of those veteran options for 2022, they’ll risk a little fan disgruntlement to keep the group together.

I wouldn’t be particularly keen to take a shot at anyone else on this list except White (if he’s slapped with an original round tender, which would require the Falcons give up nothing to sign him away from the Jets) and maybe Dobbs, who came to the NFL with intriguing tools but hasn’t had much of a chance to show how he’s developed in the pros.

Who would you sign from these lists?