There's one game left in the NFL season. The Super Bowl’s the only one remaining on the slate, so enjoy the heck out of Sunday's game. Get your chicken wings and frosty beverages ready for a fun weekend, the last one focused on football for quite some time.
The Falcons will surely be watching that game, pondering what will be required to reach that peak again. There's a ton of work ahead for that to happen, most of which involves strengthening the heck out of the roster and getting right with the salary cap.
- Behind the scenes with Terry Fontenot, Arthur Smith and Falcons scouts at 2022 Senior Bowl
- What you need to know about Falcons strategy to draft best player available
- Question of the week: What do the Falcons do with Matt Ryan?; Impact of Tom Brady, Sean Payton departures; Will the Falcons re-sign Cordarrelle Patterson?
- Arthur Blank on: Calvin Ridley; Matt Ryan; Cordarrelle Patterson; Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot
Both endeavors will take some time, but Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot are ready to keep building on what chairman Arthur Blank considered a "very successful" first season.
Let's dive into the tough choices ahead of the Falcons this offseason in Friday's Bair Mail.
Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.
Hey Bair, so there have been some recent reports that Grady Jarrett could potentially be on the move. Do you think there is a realistic chance we could look to move him for draft compensation and what would be the effects of the cap if he is traded? Why not build around him and Terrell rather than look to trade him. That seems like setting the franchise back further.
Bair: I have seen the talk and speculation, but nothing in the way of a report citing sources or league officials or agents discussing a Jarrett deal. That said, I'll take the Arthur Smith approach – as he did with Matt Ryan – and not box myself into a corner by using the word never. I will say that I think it’s time for an extension if both sides think there's a match. And while some point to lower stats in Dean Pees' scheme as a reason to eventually part ways, I think the Falcons and Pees appreciate him a ton as an on-field disruptor and a locker-room leader. Jarrett is awesome. It'd be tough to move on from him.
If we're playing the trade compensation game, I'm setting the bar high. Like first-round or bust high and then let the other teams work out a new deal with Jarrett. But, if I'm GM, I'm building around Jarrett over dealing him.
Charlie C. from Boulder, Colo.
Scott, we would all like for Fontenot to be able to sign Oluokun, Patterson, and Gage, but financially, due to our limited salary cap space, it's not possible, so who do you realistically see Fontenot signing this off-season? maybe just a couple of these free agents, so which two?
Bair: Both Terry Fontenot and Arthur Blank have emphasized the importance of re-signing their own players. Fontenot called it the best form of free agency and he's right. That said, the Falcons may not be able to retain all of their free agents they'd like. The open market could play a part in that, pro or con, but I believe they would welcome Foye Oluokun, Russell Gage and Cordarrelle Patterson back with open arms.
I think they must prioritize Oluokun among those three, see what Patterson's looking for and maybe see how Gage's market develops in free agency. Maybe they get one or two back, but the front office must remain disciplined with what they can afford and how they structure a contract while trying to get out of cap trouble.
They also have several other positions to fill with one-year deals, so that's a factor as well. As I said on Falcons Final Whistle this week, get Oluokun locked up, within reason of course, and then see what you have left to work with regarding multiyear deals, especially for Gage. I don't have a good sense of where his value will end up. It'll be important to follow those developments.
Matt Ryan continued to build up his legacy with his 14th season, and we were there for every highlight along the way.
Freddie Strickland from Jackson, Miss.
Will the Atlanta falcon draft a quarterback for 2022?
Bair: I don't believe so, Freddie. Matt Ryan’s ready to go for another season working with Arthur Smith, the quarterback class as a whole is just so-so, and the Falcons have so many other needs that draft capital should be spent in those areas over a quarterback who might not even play for a season or two.
Owner Arthur Blank said the Falcons have been pondering a succession plan. They'll execute one soon enough, but it doesn't have to be in this draft. The Falcons can afford to be patient at that spot.
Christian Schlogel from Stadtschlaining, Austria
Hello, is there any chance the falcons trade back up for a second first round pick and take OT Bernhard Raimann?
Bair: That's a very specific player you're referencing over a general trade up question, but I see why. You're from Austria. Bernhard is from Austria. It all makes sense. Also, love hearing from fans living abroad. Appreciate you writing in. He's a fine player and the Falcons need tackle help, and there will be several available late in the first round. The Falcons are armed to do it, giving up both of their second-round picks for a chance to get into the late first round a second time. I wouldn't do it, though. I want as many swings at bat during the draft as possible. The Falcons need good players in high volume. The more picks in the top three rounds, the better.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Monday's Bair Mail, the day after the season formally ends.
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.