This has been a transformative offseason for the Atlanta Falcons. There are something like 15 starting jobs up for grabs between offense, defense, and special teams, and more than one position group has effectively been remade completely this spring. After all that work and with a long summer of competition ahead, you could maybe forgive the Falcons for taking a break and waiting to see how things play out before they make any major moves.
That’s not going to happen. Last week, Arthur Smith indicated Atlanta’s going to prioritize additions to the trenches ahead of training camp. In an interview with Randy McMichael and Andy Bunker on 92.9 The Game late last week, Fontenot went one step further in response to a question from McMichael about the state of the defensive line in particular:
“No sir, there’s not enough there, and just being quite honest, there’s not. That’s our challenge right now, because there are good players and we gotta find them and turn over every stone. And it’s a 24/7 process in building a roster. The final 53, I would say, is not here in the building right now.”
Those are pretty strong words, and it’s an indicator that there’s going to be a lot of churn on this roster in the weeks leading up to the season. Even the most optimistic fans have been uneasy about the depth along both lines and the dearth of top-flight talent beyond Grady Jarrett on the defensive side and Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom on the offensive side, and the more dour among us have been concerned with the state of the roster everywhere except maybe cornerback and kicker. Knowing that Fontenot is not remotely satisfied even after a long offseason of work is actually very encouraging, given how many holes are still present on this roster.
This is news only because of how frank Fontenot is about the need for change ahead and the statement about the 53 not being on the roster, as he’s been clear since he arrived in Atlanta that this team will always be tinkering with the roster. Take this quote from an AtlantaFalcons.com piece last year at the start of the season, coming in a year where the Falcons would continuously churn the bottom of the roster and add contributors like Anthony Rush. They did that last year with effectively no cap space, whereas they’re middle of the pack this year and actually have a little wiggle room to sign veterans.
“We do a lot of work on these rosters, just evaluating every roster, knowing who’s going to get cut, and throughout the year we continue to monitor those rosters,” Fontenot said. “We want to be ready when someone becomes available.”
We’ll spend some time tomorrow looking at who is out there for free agency in the trenches, but suffice to say the Falcons appear set to make real changes both now and after roster cutdowns later this summer. Anything that helps them build a more competitive team this year and add contributors who might still be here in 2023 is more than welcome.