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 Auden Tate.
WR Auden Tate
Contract: $960K cap hit in 2022, free agent in 2023
Career Production: 35 games played, 12 games started | 61 receptions for 799 yards (13.1 YPR), 2 TD
2021 Production: 7 games played | 3 receptions for 39 yards (13.0 YPR), 1 TD | 69.6 overall PFF grade
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 7th round (253rd overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals (2018-2021), Atlanta Falcons (2022)
One of the first wide receiver additions of the offseason, Auden Tate joins the Falcons after four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals. Tate was drafted in the seventh round back in 2018 after a disappointing Combine performance, but managed to stick on the roster throughout his rookie contract. After only a handful of targets as a rookie, Tate burst onto the scene in 2019 with 40 receptions for 575 yards (14.4 YPR) and a TD. He could’ve had even more, but he missed the final three games of the season on IR.
Since that breakout year, Tate has struggled to get on the field due to a combination of injuries and improvements to the receiving corps ahead of him. Cincinnati has totally reshaped their WR room since Tate was drafted, with a top-3 that’s easily among the best in the NFL in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. There simply weren’t any targets to go around, and Tate has thus far been a very limited contributor on special teams.
He wasn’t re-signed by the Bengals this offseason, leading to the Falcons adding him in March. Obviously, Tate has a much clearer path to playing time in Atlanta. The Falcons have an extremely unproven receiving corps, with only two players relatively safe at the top. This could be an excellent opportunity for Tate to return to his 2019 glory, as WR3 is largely up for grabs in this offense. His elite size (6’5, 228), physicality, and catch radius seem to fit the mold that Arthur Smith likes on the outside. He’s also a very good run blocker, which could have added importance this season.
Projection: Auden Tate brings elite size and plus physicality to the position. His path to a starting spot is complicated by the presence of two similar players in Drake London and Bryan Edwards, but his proven NFL production should make him a favorite to be a primary reserve and rotational piece.