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 veteran free agent signing Damiere Byrd.
WR Damiere Byrd
Contract: $1.047M cap hit in 2022, free agent in 2023
Career Production: 61 games played, 24 games started | 117 receptions for 1,421 yards (12.1 YPR), 5 TD
2021 Production: 17 games played, 4 games started | 26 receptions for 329 yards (12.7 YPR), 1 TD | 53.8 overall PFF grade
The Falcons were in a dark place with their wide receiver depth this offseason—particularly after the announcement of Calvin Ridley’s suspension. Prior to the draft, the team had pretty limited options and elected to sign a handful of interesting depth pieces. Perhaps most interesting among them was Damiere Byrd, a former UDFA of the Panthers who managed to stick around in Carolina for four seasons. He’s since gone on a bit of an NFL tour, with stops in Arizona, New England, and Chicago, before winding up in Atlanta.
Byrd’s production through most of his career was fairly mediocre before his stint with the Patriots. On a truly awful depth chart and catching passes from an aging Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham, Byrd functioned as the de facto WR2. He wound up with an impressive 47 receptions for 604 yards (12.9 YPR) and a TD. He returned to a depth role with the Bears in 2021, but still posted 26 receptions for 329 yards (12.7 YPR) and a TD.
Byrd is an elite athlete, but lacks ideal size at 5’9, 175. His 4.27 speed, high-end agility, and explosiveness give him significant upside as a deep threat and YAC player. The issues have come against bigger, more physical corners, as Byrd’s lack of strength and below-average catch radius make it difficult for him to win in condensed areas. He’s also got experience returning kicks and punts, and even has a kickoff return TD under his belt. On a depleted depth chart once again, Byrd has an excellent chance to wind up the WR3 and primary deep target in the receiving corps.
Projection: Damiere Byrd brings a lot of experience to the position, both on offense and special teams. He’s got a good shot at WR3, where he can win as a deep threat and YAC option across from Drake London and Bryan Edwards.