There are so many different opinions on how the Falcons should prioritize their offseason needs. Some of you are set on helping the pass rush or the receiver spot. There are precious few, however, who think quarterback's the way to go at No. 8 overall, even if Matt Ryan's not their favorite.
- Falcons Breakdown: QBs, RBs, WRs, TEs, OL, DL, OLB, ILB, CB, S
- Rookie Review: Kyle Pitts, Richie Grant, Jalen Mayfield, Darren Hall, Drew Dalman, Ade Ogundeji, Avery Williams, Ta'Quon Graham, Frank Darby, Feleipe Franks
- Question of the week: What do the Falcons do with Matt Ryan?; Impact of Tom Brady, Sean Payton departures
- Falcons offseason checklist
There's a vocal faction of the fan base, however, who believes protecting Ryan is vital moving forward. That typically involves going with an offensive tackle in the first round, considering how expensive they can be in free agency. We got a few questions about that in the mailbag, so let's address that, more on Matt Ryan and a Deion Jones question, in Wednesday's mailbag.
Dedrick Edge from Fayetteville, N.C.
Good morning/afternoon Bair. My question is about our Linebacker situation. Oluokun who led the league in tackles is coming up for a new contract and Walker is improving extremely well. I personally think our best solution is to trade Deion and extend Oluokun. Wondering your thoughts and if trading Deion is the scenario what do you think is a fair trade compensation for him? Thanks for answering my question
Bair: I believe the Falcons will push to keep Foye Oluokun. Will that happen? The Yale product should generate some interest on the open market.
Regarding a Deion Jones trade, I don't see that happening. I still think he's an athletic linebacker who has a skill set perfectly fit for the modern NFL. There's also the matter of his contract, which has been renegotiated to push a big cap number back. 2022 is the year when that figure goes sky high. It's hard to imagine another team taking that number on – it’s at $20 million, per overthecap.com – and there's a big dead-money hit if he's moved. Again, it's hard to imagine him going anywhere in 2022.
He had a down year in terms of impact plays, but that number to return to 2020 levels, when he had 4.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hits and two interceptions. I think keeping Jones and Oluokun together another year at least is the way to go, with a possible changing of the guard in 2023 depending on Walker's development.
Lloyd Alston from D'Iberville, Miss.
Don't you think Falcon should prioritize protecting Matt Ryan the o-line was horrible on 3rd and long. I felt like he was sacked 9 out of every 10 of these situations.
Bair: The Falcons have too many pressing needs right now, from edge rusher to cornerback to receiver and, yes, offensive line, to say that one's most important. Offensive tackle especially is something to be considered at No. 8 overall, though the Falcons could be down to the third or fourth best tackle when it's their turn.
I agree that the Falcons need veteran competition at left guard and/or center, plus a new option at right tackle. That's a lot for one offseason, but depth and upgrades are required there to get the best out of Matt Ryan and the quarterback who comes after.
Jim Campbell from Townsend, Tenn.
Thanks for guiding us through this off-season maze. I would appreciate your thoughts on the release of Matt Gono. Was this a signal that the Falcons are inclined to roll with the same OL in 2022? Seems a 25-year-old versatile lineman is exactly what the Falcons need, if for nothing else than to provide competition to get the other guys to up their game. Mysterious season-ending injury and "mutual agreement" to release him suggest something else is behind the move. Thanks for your insights.
Bair: I'll admit an element of surprise at the transaction as well, Jim. I definitely don't think it means the Falcons are set up front, though. Don't forget he was operating on an expiring contract, so he was going to hit free agency anyway. This was a nice thing to do, giving Gono a head start on finding a team. Maybe the money wasn't going to match up. There are several factors that go into it, though it's unfortunate for all involved that Gono wasn't available in 2021. The Falcons certainly could've used his help.
Take a look at some of our favorite images of Matt Ryan and the entire Atlanta Falcons squad from the 2021-22 season.
Cole McCannon from Colbert, Ga.
January 2021, the LA Rams traded for Matthew Stafford. January 2022, the LA Rams are going to the Super Bowl. What realistic trade could you see the Falcons making that would get them to the Super Bowl next year?
Bair: It's not that simple, my friend. The Rams were stacked before the trade and a quarterback push them over the top. Sort of. It could be argued that Cooper Kupp playing like an MVP did that more than Stafford. Adding Von Miller and OBJ didn't hurt, either.
The Falcons aren't stacked. They need a lot more than one player. In fact, there isn't a magic trade out there to make the team Super Bowl contenders. That includes an Aaron Rodgers deal. That's why the Falcons will continue to build the roster the right way, draft after draft and smart signing after smart signing.
James Epps from Gainesville, Ga.
When it comes to Matt Ryan haters, I certainly don't agree. I can however understand their desire for a QB who can put the team on his shoulders and carry them to victory much more frequently. I also understand that most NFL teams would love to have him on the roster. He is always a top 10 NFL QB, but seldom a top 5 NFL QB. He has been very good for a lot of years only missed a hand full of starts. He has gaudy numbers, but a lot of it is due to having the best wide receiver in the NFL for most of his career, and due to the fact that he has had to play from behind way too much. As far as replacing him, haters should remember that it is much easier said than done. Can we all agree that he is a very good durable QB?
Bair: No, James, I don't think we can all agree that Matt Ryan's a very good, very durable quarterback. You and I and a bunch of others who can, but some will remain firmly on the other side of the aisle. That's okay. It's part of what makes sports fun.
We can all agree that Ryan's currently the NFC South’s best quarterback and can thrive working with Arthur Smith and an upgraded offensive line. He needs some help. So does the next quarterback after him, so the Falcons should and, I believe, will be working to provide assistance this offseason.
Call for questions
Let's fill up the mailbag, right here, for inclusion in Friday's installment of Bair Mail.
Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast
Break down the hottest topics surrounding the Atlanta Falcons and how they can impact the team's success with Atlanta Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Kris Rhim. Like and subscribe to join us for the lively debate on Falcons Final Whistle.
Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.