Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is tight end. Perhaps the strongest overall position group on the roster, the team returns just two players in Pro Bowler Kyle Pitts and former UDFA Parker Hesse.
Next up, veteran addition Anthony Firkser.
TE Anthony Firkser
Contract: $1.05M cap hit in 2022, free agent in 2023
Career Production: 58 games played, 3 games started | 106 receptions for 1,107 yards (10.4 YPR), 5 TD
2021 Production: 15 games played, 1 game started | 34 receptions for 291 yards (8.6 YPR), 2 TD | 54.8 overall PFF grade
Previous Teams: UDFA signed by the New York Jets (2017), Kansas City Chiefs (2017-2018), Tennessee Titans (2018-2021), Atlanta Falcons (2022)
Going into the 2021 season, the thought was that the Falcons had a quality duo of tight ends with rookie Kyle Pitts and veteran Hayden Hurst. Pitts certainly delivered, but Hurst was largely a disappointment: he turned 26 catches into just 221 yards (8.5 YPR) and 3 TD, but also fumbled 3 times. His blocking was also well below-average, and Hurst quickly seemed to lose the faith of the coaching staff. Heading into 2022, the Falcons have added another veteran to assume the TE2 role: Anthony Firkser.
Much like Hurst, Firkser is a receiver first and a blocker second. He’s more of a “move” tight end than a traditional in-line player. Firkser is very familiar with Arthur Smith’s scheme, putting up his two best seasons in 2019 and 2020. While Firkser has never ascended to the heights of a featured receiving option, he’s been productive: 39 receptions for 387 yards (9.9 YPR) and a TD in 2020, and 14 receptions for 204 yards (14.6 YPR) and a TD in 2019. As you can see from Firkser’s testing, he’s an above-average athlete at tight end who lacks ideal size.
There’s also the added benefit of his experience with new Falcons QB Marcus Mariota, which should give the veteran signal caller a familiar and reliable outlet. Firkser isn’t going to be a major part of Atlanta’s passing offense, but he’ll be a reliable short-to-intermediate target who brings plenty of experience and familiarity to the tight end room.
Projection: Anthony Firkser is the heavy favorite to assume the TE2 role in the Falcons offense. Expect Firkser to command 50 or so targets in the passing game as a short-to-intermediate receiving specialist and relief valve for Mariota and/or Ridder.