These Falcons don’t want to go into the 2023 NFL Draft with holes on the roster, which means the quiet days we’ve seen since Atlanta’s early splashes in free agency won’t last. The first wave of this Falcons free agency period is over, however, and the majority of their big splashes in free agency have ended with it.
That’s not a criticism or a resignation to boring days, especially because the Falcons just signed Mack Hollins last night. It’s just an acknowledgement that we’ve shifted gears. The Falcons went on a spending spree that saw them extend star guard Chris Lindstrom, bring back most of their critical free agents, and land a star safety and other key pieces along the way. Barring a surprise or two in the weeks ahead, the Falcons have done the heavy lifting with the big money.
That brings us to into a more familiar part of free agency. Over the past two seasons, Terry Fontenot and the front office have been adept at getting players for cheap that the Falcons valued but other teams clearly did not. That’s how they landed solid full-time starters like Lorenzo Carter, Rashaan Evans, and Elijah Wilkinson for a song, and how they’ve managed to scoop up contributors in the summer and even mid-season. Right now, with the big ticket free agents at least mostly in hand, Atlanta will pivot to that approach to fill out their roster, landing players like Hollins on affordable, short-term deals to gauge their fit with the team and try to fill out the roster.
Fans will rightly point out that the Falcons can hit some of their outstanding needs in the draft, and they surely will do so. A team that likes to pick who they consider the best player available regardless of position—it’s hard to know just how closely they hew to that, but let’s take them at their word—does not want to head into late April urgently needing to draft a certain position just to get by. That’s why I have to believe there is at least one guard, edge rusher, potential nickel cornerback, and reserves with upside at a handful of other positions on the way.
The splashes and the tsunamis may well be over with Atlanta sitting on a little over $20 million in cap space, but there’s still a bit of money to burn and we’re now entering maybe Terry Fontenot’s favorite part of the offseason. I’d expect Atlanta to be active adding reserves and potential starters from now until the 2023 NFL Draft.