Bair Mail has return from a brief hiatus and, to quote Eminem for the second time in a month, "People! It feels so good to be back."
That comes from a deep cut. Any guesses? Toss it into the mailbag and the first one definitely gets their question answered.
Anyway, Bair Mail took some time off last week and part of this one due to the NFL combine and the Calvin Ridley news that dominated the past few days. We were, well, pretty darn, busy with all that has gone down.
You all want to talk more about what happened, which is exactly what Bair Mail is for. Let's get into you questions about what took place at the combine and the fall out from the Ridley news in Friday's edition of Bair Mail.
And fear not. I'll be answering questions every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from now on.
So let's get right to it in this mailbag:
Mike S. from Calgary, Alberta, Canada
How in the world did we go from the best receiver room in the league to far and away the worst?!?
Bair: I understand the sentiment after seeing Julio Jones depart, Russ Gage possible leave in free agency and Calvin Ridley get suspended. I would challenge the notion that the Falcons have the worst receiver corps in the league. Honestly, they don’t have a receiver corps at all right now, with Frank Dabry the only receiver who caught a pass last year under contract.
Their grade isn't an "F," it's an incomplete. Let's see who the Falcons sign in free agency and draft before we analyze the state of the team's pass catchers.
JC Daniel from Savannah, Ga.
Scott, we have gone from bad to worse with Ridley. … On the bright side, we save $11.1 million in salary cap for his "blunder." How much does this devalue his trade potential, whether now or later? Can we get anything at present?
Bair: While the cap space is welcome to the Falcons, losing Ridley as a trade asset or an on-field producer is a big blow. I don't see any way another team could trade for him right now after violating the gambling policy and the fact he's suspended indefinitely, with no guarantee of reinstatement in early 2023. He has to apply for it, he doesn't just automatically get let back in.
I also think it lessens what the Falcons can get for him even if/after he's reinstated. I can't imagine a scenario where a cut makes sense; even getting a lower pick in trade next year is better than nothing. But that's just my opinion. Who knows what the Falcons will do.
Ronald Shearer from Port Orange, Fla.
My question is how does the NFL handle Ridley's cap space. The NFL suspended him so is Atlanta still strapped to his cap. I just don't think it's fair for any team to be tied down with a player's cap, if that player is on a non-injury absence.
Bair: Thanks for reaching out, Ronald. Ridley's suspension is unpaid and his $11.1 million salary comes off the books and the salary cap for 2022. You can read more about that here. His contract tolls, meaning the Falcons will be responsible for paying that sum if he's reinstated for 2023 and plays for them.
Jacob Schonberger from New Haven, Conn.
Hey Scott, I was wondering if it is starting to get too late to resign Foye Oluokun before he hits free agency or at all. Even if he does hit free agency how much of a chance is there of retaining him. I think it would be a bad idea to let him go.
Bair: It's definitely not too late, Jacob. The Falcons retain exclusive negotiating rights with Foye Oluokun through Monday afternoon, when all teams can talk to all players leading up to the start of the new league year on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
He would be my top priority to re-sign among Falcons unrestricted free agents, but a few outlets believe he could have a strong value on the open market. I agree with that assessment and I'm sure his agent does, too. Testing the market could be beneficial for the player. If it's not as strong, maybe it helps the team.
The Falcons are hamstrung by their salary-cap situation and high volume of roster spots to fill, so they can't get into a bidding war. What market there is for a modern off-the-ball linebacker who led the league in tackles, just entering his prime but still a relative unknown among casual fans, will be interesting to see.
That will be the primary factor in retaining him, especially if a deal isn't done before Wednesday. If it is, they'll need to free up more space to sign him and be cap compliant on Wednesday afternoon. It's a complex situation for sure.
Jonah Feist from Hannover, Germany
Hi Scott, Greetings from Germany. First I want to thank you for helping me through the offseason with the Bair Mail. I am reading it every time.
Now my Question. After the Blockbuster-Trade with Russell Wilson heading to the Broncos, the Seahawks are now sitting right behind the Falcons with a need for a new QB. In case the Panthers aren´t drafting a QB, would you say it is possible that the Falcons change position with the Commanders as they are also in search of a QB and maybe want to get over the Seahawks in Draft Order. Which Compensation would be realistic for the Falcons?
Bair: Thanks for the question, Jonah, and the chance to clear up something I said on the latest Falcons Final Whistle pod. I stated that the Falcons' trade down value isn't as great post Wilson trade, because Denver is no longer QB needy and is no longer behind them at No. 9. Having Seattle there, with no long-term answer at quarterback, makes the pick valuable in the same way Denver's presence was.
I don't think Washington would make that deal for a quarterback after the Carson Wentz trade, but there are teams like Pittsburgh (at No. 20) or the Bucs (at No. 28) – that return must be huge – can't see the Falcons dealing with New Orleans (at No. 18) – or maybe Minnesota (at No. 12) if they move on from Kirk Cousins before the draft. It all depends on how far you go down. A minor move requires at least two second rounders, in my opinion. Dropping into the 20s requires multiple first-round picks as a starting point.
We take a look at the action in Indy at the 2022 NFL Combine.
Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.
Welcome back from the combine Scott, I hope it was fruitful. No speaking about the combine, were there any major surprises or standouts from players that you didn't expect? Also, who were the biggest risers and fallers at the combine in your opinion?
Bair: I'm a little late to this question, Chris, but let's go over it here. I think Georgia defenders were the biggest winners. Jordan Davis…I mean, my goodness. That dude’s a freak. I bet he locked up a top 20 pick for sure. I also think the world found out more about Travon Walker than his stats could ever show. He could well be a top 10 pick. I have him going to the Falcons at No. 8 in my latest mock draft. Devante Wyatt also had a solid day.
I would throw Ohio State receiver Chris Olave, Cincinnati cornerback Ahmad Gardner and Memphis receiver Calvin Austin into the mix. And it seems like NC State tackle Ickey Ekwonu is in the conversation to be the top pick, or at least the first tackle off the board. Breece Hall also looked pretty good to me. So did Florida runner Dameon Pierce. And don't be swayed by Kyle Hamilton's relatively slow 40-yard dash. That dude can flat play.
Call for questions
We've got mailbags back on the regular, so submit your questions right here for inclusion in Monday's Bair Mail.