I didn't think it would happen so soon, and yet I always knew this opportunity would come back to me.
Hi. This is Tori - not Scott - writing the Bair Mail you're currently reading. Scott is down at the owners meetings in Palm Beach. We were on a call yesterday and I told him I'd be quite upset with him if he returned to Flowery Branch at the end of the week with a tan. He assured me he hadn't seen the sun. And that tracks with how many stories he's written in a 24 hour time period.
Let's get into the questions for this mailbag, one of which comes from someone under the alias Scoots McFreeley. And if that doesn't get you excited about the running of the mailbag on this fine Wednesday I don't know what will.
Stacy C. from Sugar Hill, Ga.
What on Earth should they do with Deion Jones? I know he has a big salary, but it seems complicated with his contract. Your thoughts, Tori? I'd never write in for that Scott Bair fella, but I trust your insight.
Tori: Oh Stacy, how I do enjoy a nice shot to Scott's ego. I normally would say something along the lines of, "Aw, Stacy, Scott has great insight, too!" But alas, Scott has been in Palm Beach for the last three days so I shan't extend to him that kindness.
On a serious note, though, you're exactly right: Deion Jones' contract and subsequent salary is a large and complicated endeavor. I tend to think at this point in time that Jones isn't going anywhere. If the Falcons still had Foye Oluokun on the roster... If they didn't have Matt Ryan on the books for over $40 million in dead money... If they had a trade offer for Jones... sure, all of these things could have been the deciding factors in the team's ability to move on from Jones. But all of these things either did (or didn't) happen, resulting in a greater need to keep Jones on the 2022 roster than to see him go somewhere else.
The way Jones' contract is currently structured essentially takes away the Falcons ability to cut him without taking on another blow to the chin. They would take on significant dead money whether or not it happened before or after June 1. They're already paying the largest dead money hit in the NFL in 2022, why increase that number anymore?
Even a trade before June 1 results in $10 million in dead money. After June 1, a trade would result in that dead hit dropping to $5 million with a saving of around $14 million in cap space. That option is the only one - to me - that makes sense if you do want to move on from Jones, but who's even to say the Falcons want to move on from Jones?
(All of these numbers are available on OverTheCap.com if anyone wants to look for themselves).
David B. from Buford, Ga.
Arthur Smith says Kyle Pitts only scratched the surface of what he can be in Year 1. If that's true, how good can he realistically be in Year 2? How would you like to see him improve?
Tori: I actually think this is a really easy answer: Get Kyle Pitts into the endzone.
Pitts made one touchdown catch in his rookie year, and it wasn't even on US soil! It was in London! (And no, before you ask, I do not count his touchdown catch in the Pro Bowl as being his first touchdown in America).
So, how much better can Pitts be in 2022? If he has similar production as he did in his rookie season plus a handful of touchdown catches, too? I think that'll do.
Scoots McFreeley from Atlanta
How big of an impact do you think Marcus Mariota is gonna have on the offense? How well do you think he works with Cordarrelle Patterson?
Tori: Scoots, I actually have so many questions for you. How did you land on this alias? Is it one you have used before? Is your real name worse, or better? Please enlighten me.
But let me answer your question first.
I think you raise a solid point by adding your question about CP. I think that pairing is what I am most looking forward to seeing develop throughout this season.
When I sat down with Marcus Mariota for an interview last week, I asked him what he wanted to showcase, and the first thing he said was his mobility. I think having a mobile quarterback takes some pressure off Patterson in a way we haven't yet seen. Nothing at all against Matty Wheels, but I think even he'd agree those wheels could use some grease from time to time. I think there are some different things - from a scheme standpoint - Arthur Smith can do with Mariota and Patterson that perhaps he couldn't do before. We'll see how that comes to fruition.