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Bair: Key terms that define Falcons initial 53-man roster, their 2022 season and what comes next

Arthur Smith, Marcus Mariota will lead Falcons quest to prove explosive, physical and better than people think

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The Falcons are a team in transition.

Transition, transition, transition.

Stop me if you've heard that term before. Like, a thousand times over the course of this past offseason.

The reason why: it's dead-on accurate relating to the Falcons on micro and macro levels.

Atlanta's initial 53-man roster, formally announced on Tuesday afternoon, will be constantly churning and evolving throughout the season with subtle moves you can see through a magnifying glass.


Now let's back up a bit and look at this transition from a broad view.

The Falcons are transitioning from a bad salary-cap situation to a pretty good one. They're moving on from franchise quarterback Matt Ryan after 14 years. They're moving toward a depth chart stocked with players selected or signed by Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith and the Falcons brass.

This franchise has amassed substantial amounts of dead money that will be off the books come next season. They have 25 new players, including 11 veterans on one-year deals, featured on their initial 2022 53-man roster.

We take a look at the initial 53-man roster for 2022.

There are also seven NFL draft picks, three undrafted free agents and CFL alum/NFL newbie Dee Alford in the team's initial collection of new players. And, after some anticipated roster shuffling in coming days, the volume of new guys on one-year deals will increase.

That brings us to another term you've heard a bunch, one that ties directly into this transition period.


That's what the Falcons use to describe one-year deals regularly handed out this offseason. Lorenzo Carter's here on a prove-it deal. So is Rashaan Evans and KhaDarel Hodge and Damien Williams and Bradley Pinion and many more.

Play well and prove worthy of a bigger, lengthier compensation package from the Falcons or somewhere else. Nearly out of a sticky salary-cap situation and excited to reward their own, there will be opportunities for the best of this group stick around.

These young players want to prove worthy of their draft status, or show they were taken too low, by making an early impact and becoming part of a promising young foundation already featuring Kyle Pitts, A.J. Terrell and Chris Lindstrom.

Nobody personifies this prove-it mentality more than Marcus Mariota. The former No. 2 overall NFL Draft pick is out to re-establish himself as an NFL starting quarterback and lead an offense featuring plenty of firepower at the skill spots, including Pitts, Drake London and Cordarrelle Patterson.

They're all trying to prove better than expectations attached to them by those watching from a great distance.

That leads us to a third term that fits this roster, one that isn't as attached to the Falcons as the others are.


There are so many questions remaining as this team heads into the regular season. Can Mariota thrive in his relatively rare second chance? How will the Falcons look featuring mobile, athletic quarterbacks? Who will carry and catch the ball?

Can young, yet talented edge rushers develop a steady pass rush that last year's defense could not? Can a team full of new faces come together and play as one under Arthur Smith and Dean Pees?

A real positive is wrapped inside the uncertainty. That term: Promise.

Drake London has vast potential. So does Arnold Ebiketie. Will that be fulfilled in 2022 and beyond. Despite them already being top tier, there's promise of better from Pitts and Terrell and others on the roster.

If they can use that promising talent to perform well, can this team defy expectations, be consistently competitive and win more than outsiders think?

Everybody has an opinion. Nobody really knows what will happen next.

The Falcons will try to navigate this transition period well, prove people wrong (or their supporters right) and find answers to questions about the future of this franchise in the short- and long-term.


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