The Falcons will have options via waiver claims and free agent signings in the next few days, and given that they’ve all but pledged to sign players other teams cut loose, we should expect some changes to the roster. The next obvious question is this: Who are they going to go out and get?
We don’t know the answer to that and the options are plentiful after every team cut 25-plus players in the last couple of days, but we do know the Falcons have been keeping an eye out. Here are just a few players who might make sense for Atlanta as they look to add to their roster.
OLB Kemoko Turay
Turay met with the Falcons back in the spring as a free agent, but wound up going to San Francisco. Fresh off a 5.5 sack season with the Colts, Turay was clearly a player who caught the team’s eye, and would be another solid rotational addition to the outside linebacker group.
Turay would likely replace Quinton Bell on the roster if he signed, given that the Falcons have capable set of four young outside linebackers already on the team. That would be a shame for Bell, who played well this summer and has worked hard to get here, but I’d hope the team would then carry him on the practice squad.
What’s working against Turay? He’s barely played special teams thus far in his career and has deal with injuries in the past. If that doesn’t bother Atlanta, they could take a second swing at a player they courted back in March. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they did.
TE O.J. Howard
Once upon a time, Howard was considered a potentially elite tight end, but he never lived up to that promise with the Buccaneers. Injury and a lack of production have consistently kept Howard from becoming the kind of player he very obviously has the talent to be, and the Bills gave up on him after about half a year when they made him one of their cuts.
The Falcons, of course, have not been shy about taking on players with tantalizing skillsets but without much of a history of production, adding and turbocharging Cordarrelle Patterson and tinkering with Feleipe Franks as a passer and tight end, to name a couple of moves. Howard is still only 27 years old and could use a new opportunity, and it’s not difficult for me to imagine Arthur Smith and company wanting to see if they could get the most out of him. If Anthony Firkser truly is gone and the team wants to add another pass catcher to their tight end group, I don’t think it’s outlandish to suggest Howard could be it. It is, nonetheless, probably a longshot.
DL Mario Edwards
The interest here is sort of a no-brainer. Edwards has ties to Terry Fontenot’s right hand man, Ryan Pace, from their shared time in Chicago. He has a history of playing well against the run as a 3-4 end and has been at least an occasionally useful pass rusher, delivering two or more sacks in all but one of his NFL seasons. This Falcons team needs a solid, well-rounded defensive lineman pretty badly and have been questing for one, and Edwards is set to fall right into their laps.
Besides Turay, Edwards is the player I’d be least surprised to see the Falcons go out and get, given that combination of fit and skill.
DL Christian Covington
A part-time starter throughout his time in the NFL, Covington has not been a standout but has been reliable. He clocked 14 starts just two years ago for the Bengals and gives you a stout run defender with a little bit—a very little bit, most years—of pass rushing acumen. With Atlanta’s options behind their starters largely unproven, a player like Covington could make sense as a one-year fill-in option. Throw Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton in here, too, as both were recently cut loose and have quality track records.
CB Terrance Mitchell
He’s about as experienced a cornerback as you’ll find hitting the market right now, with 27 starts over the past two seasons split between the Browns and Texans. It’s somewhat of a surprise to see the Patriots cut him loose after he was penciled in as a starter outside earlier in the summer, especially because Mitchell has been solid enough in his long career to merit at least a roster spot.
If Atlanta’s looking for more experienced depth to add to a reserve group that currently features second-year pro Darren Hall, CFL import Dee Alford, and longtime special teamer Mike Ford, Mitchell could fit the bill.
OT Cedric Ogbuehi
A consistently solid tackle when called upon, Ogbuehi has starting experience on both sides of the line and plenty of experience. He’s bounced around in recent years and played sparingly, but as a veteran swing tackle option for the practice squad (think Willie Beavers a year ago), the Falcons could find him interesting. Their only in-house options for that role right now are Tyler Vrabel and Leroy Watson, both long-term developmental options rather than break-glass-in-case-of-emergency options.
I might also keep an eye on Jason Spriggs, who was also cut and spent much of last year in a swing tackle role for Atlanta, even filling in for Kaleb McGary.
OL Alex Leatherwood
The team’s lack of additions along the offensive line has been fairly perplexing, and perhaps the fact that they haven’t gone out and gotten any established veterans to challenge for playing time is an indication they don’t plan to. If that’s the case, perhaps they’re looking for upside and players Dwayne Ledford can mold.
Leatherwood would likely fit the bill, even if he’s fallen well short of expectations after the Raiders made him a first round pick. Two regimes essentially gave up on him at tackle, with the 2021 Raiders moving Leatherwood inside (where he was better, though not necessarily good) and the 2022 Raiders electing to cut him. It’s quite possible Leatherwood is just another offensive lineman who isn’t going to pan out in the NFL, but he is just 23 and looked just promising enough at guard to ensure there will be teams taking a shot on him. Atlanta could be one such team.
G David Moore
A nasty guard who has yet to find a home in the NFL, Moore has an intriguing blend of strength and athleticism that apparently intrigued Ryan Pace, whose front office reportedly tried to claim him after he was cut by the Panthers last summer. Moore has now bounced between the Panthers, Jets, and Browns, who just cut ties with him, but Atlanta’s need for long-term depth on the interior is a real need indeed. They’ve favored relatively raw guards who can be forces for good as run blockers—think Jalen Mayfield and Justin Shaffer, though neither one is on the cusp of panning out just yet—and Moore might intrigue based on that.
QB Logan Woodside
The Falcons may be totally content with Feleipe Franks as their true third quarterback, a player who would step in if the unthinkable happened and the team had to turn to him. They may still want insurance in the form of a practice squad option.
Maybe that player is Woodside, a familiar face for Arthur Smith after the two shared time in Tennessee. Woodside was a practice squad player who became Ryan Tannehill’s backup in Tennessee, but he was just cut loose after the Titans drafted and kept Malik Willis.
Who would you like to see the team sign?