I had intended to kick off this roundtable series with the Falcoholic staff weighing in on what the team should do at quarterback, not wide receiver, but recent events made this conversation a bit more pressing.
The Falcons currently only have Frank Darby, Austin Trammell and Chad Hansen under contract at wide receiver. They can easily re-sign Christian Blake and Olamide Zaccheaus if they want to, and Tajae Sharpe and Russell Gage are also impending free agents. That group would not be an inspiring one, though, and the Falcons clearly need to do something else at receiver, if not several somethings else.
With that in mind, we turned to the crack team of crackpots here at The Falcoholic to tell us what the Falcons should do with their wide receiver position heading into the 2022 offseason. Let’s get after it.
Build a deep corps
I wrote an article about this the other night, so I’ll keep my comments brief.
The Falcons should bring back Russell Gage if the dollars work and keep Olamide Zaccheaus around, allowing them to enter free agency with Gage, OZ, Frank Darby and a couple of reserve/future guys they seem to like. I would then focus on adding a veteran or two who fits what the team is looking for, with D.J. Chark’s size/speed combo making him perhaps my top choice. I would then absolutely sink a day two draft choice into the position if the right guys are available, with Purdue’s David Bell being near the top of my list.
The goal should be to create a deep, varied group that can still keep chugging if someone’s hurt, and one that isn’t hyper-reliant on a single player to be dominant. Long-term you still want that elite option, but for the moment this team will be best-served by adding plenty of capable players. —Dave Choate
Fill out the depth chart with cheap free agents
This is a code red. Prior to the 2021 season, I highlighted the wide receiver position as severely lacking depth. A single injury and the entire dynamic of the offense would be forced to change. With Calv*n R*idley unlikely to ever play for the Falcons again and Russell Gage heading into free agency, Atlanta is looking at the worst receiver group in the league.
We are looking at a multi-year fix for a team that believes it can compete with an aging quarterback. Waiting on a handful of rookies is just not realistic. The Falcons need to swing on a bunch of cheap yet questionable veterans and hope some provide half of what we saw from Cordarrelle Patterson. Atlanta can add a wide receiver on day 1 or day 2 of the draft, but the team ultimately needs players who can contribute in 2022 to fill out the depth chart. — Matt Chambers
Trade for Julio
Matt Ryan needs a target he can count on. One with which he has a high level of trust. Any free agent or rookie you bring in is going to have a bumpy road to building that chemistry. There just so happens to be a receiver who Ryan has that chemistry with.
If the Falcons are going to compete for the Super Bowl in 2022 (and who among us thinks that isn’t likely), they need to go all in on bringing back the greatest wide receiver to ever play in Atlanta. Surely a first round pick to the Titans would do the trick. I’m all in on winning it all in 2022 with Julio back in the fold. Let’s make it happen TF. - David Walker