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 wide receiver. The weakest position on offense heading in to the offseason, the Falcons have since completely overhauled the depth chart. Only Olamide Zaccheaus and 2021 sixth-rounder Frank Darby remain from last year’s squad.
Next up is recent trade addition Bryan Edwards.
WR Bryan Edwards
Age: 23 (24 during 2022 season)
Contract: $1.036M cap hit in 2022, rookie contract through 2023
Career Production: 28 games played, 15 games started | 45 receptions for 764 yards (17.0 YPR) and 4 TD
2021 Production: 16 games played, 12 games started | 34 receptions for 571 yards (16.8 YPR) and 3 TD
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 3rd round (81st overall) by the Las Vegas Raiders (2020-2021), Atlanta Falcons (2022)
Even after fortifying the WR corps with the selection of Drake London and a multitude of veteran signings, Atlanta’s group was pretty far from being considered “good”. This late in the process, there simply weren’t many options available in free agency that would really move the needle and would consider signing with the Falcons. Instead, the team dipped into the trade market, bringing in former third-rounder Bryan Edwards from the Raiders.
I really don’t understand why Las Vegas would make this trade, considering the compensation (a 5th from the Falcons in exchange for Edwards and a 7th from the Raiders) was unimpressive. But for the Falcons, the move is a slam dunk. Edwards didn’t get much work as a rookie, but developed into the third option in the passing game for Derek Carr last season. His 571 receiving yards were third on the team, and his 16.8 YPR was second (among those with at least 20 targets). Edwards is also just 23 and is still on a very affordable rookie contract through 2023.
On paper, Edwards certainly fits the size and physicality thresholds that the Falcons seem to covet at 6’3, 212. He’s got a clear path to a significant role in Atlanta, and could easily wind up as the WR2 heading in to Week 1. Edwards gives the Falcons a young, high-upside target at a low cost for two more seasons. For the price of just a future 5th, that’s a terrific deal for Terry Fontenot.
Projection: Bryan Edwards appears to be the favorite for WR2 in Atlanta due to his experience and high upside. He should be in line for a significant target share—bigger than he ever had in Las Vegas—and could turn in a career year in 2022 if the Falcons’ QB play is up to the task.