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Bair Mail: On Lorenzo Carter, Desmond Ridder, Caleb Huntley and more after Falcons 53-man roster cut down

We also discuss Feleipe Franks' preseason performance in this Wednesday mailbag

The Falcons announced their initial 53-man roster on Tuesday, leading to tons of questions about how the Falcons go forward from here.

That includes thoughts on those who made it and those who didn't.


And how those locked on the roster will fare in the regular season, which is now barely more than a week away.

Let's get right to your submissions in this post-roster-cut mailbag:

Corinthians Brown from Conyers, Ga.

Hey Bair!!! My last question didn't get in your rotation but I'm new to this, so I get it. But I have one defensive Question & that is do you think Lorenzo Carter can at least provide us with a 10-11 sack season that would be huge seeing how the Most someone got last year was 4.

Bair: That would be a huge jump for Lorenzo Carter after recording a career-high five sacks in 2021. There's certainly potential to increase his sack total, considering his talent and expected snap count, but there's not guarantee of that. I'd say seven would be a big win, especially if some of other young pass rushers are productive. He'll see some extra attention until the other guys prove themselves in games.

The pass rush remains a big question, but I think it's clear from previous Bair Mails that I’m bullish on Carter. Even still, 10 sacks seems like a lot.

Klein Santana from Los Angeles, Ca.

Felepie Franks has shown enough in preseason at TE and QB to be cut; why is he still on the 53-man roster?

Bair: Gotta disagree with you there, Klein. Most only get to see preseason games, where he played some quarterback and barely any tight end. In practices, however, he played tons of tight end and barely any quarterback. He was pretty darn good at tight end, especially relative to his experience at the position, in those workouts.

You have to think head coach Arthur Smith is keeping most of his plan for Franks under wraps, for use during the regular season. He's deserving of a roster spot considering his value to the team overall, at tight end, on special teams and as an emergency quarterback for a team only carrying two full-time signal callers.

Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.

What's up Scott did you miss me? I know it's been a while, but I've been busy so finding time to write in has been tricky. I know Mariota is the starter and I support that. Though given his injury history & sometimes inconsistent play, isn't Ridder starting this season at some point an inevitability? Coach Smith isn't coaching him hard just because he can take it. I believe he's preparing him for the high probability he'll be starting sooner than later. "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst" mentality.

Bair: Chris! Good to hear from you, buddy. And you got this question in right under the wire. I was writing the Bair Mail when your question came in and thought I'd include it.

Now on to your query. You've got to prep any backup for regular-season action, especially a rookie, during the summer. Once game prep starts, the No. 1 guy takes most every first-team rep. Development takes somewhat of a backseat to preparing for the next contest.

I also wouldn't consider Ridder starting an inevitability. If Mariota plays well, he'll continue to play. And he's not as injury prone as you might think, missing but a handful of games in the NFL and none in college.

If the Falcons are struggling record-wise, it wouldn't hurt to have Ridder start a game late in the year to see what you have, so you're better prepared for the NFL Draft.

Now, independent of all that, I've been impressed by Ridder’s poise and progress over the course of camp. He's very self-aware and is constantly correcting things to avoid making the same mistakes twice. The arm talent and athleticism is there. There should be optimism that he's going to figure it all out.

Jake Stevens from Gainesville, Ga.

I haven't written in a while but read everything coming on the app. I got a quick question. I was looking at team's cap space and noticed that a lot of teams have ten plus million in space. Like a lot of them. Why is that? I would think they would sign someone and put them through training camp instead of after.

Bair: That's a good question, Jake. The answer has to do with making it through the season. They'll continue to sign players during the year, adding a bit to their totals. Here's why: anyone who makes the initial 53-man roster has guaranteed money coming. Also, anyone who lands on injured reserve gets paid their base salary while on that reserve list.

Because of all that, teams will leave some cap space in reserve to make moves and continue paying those who end up on IR. It's the cost of getting through the year. It may not be $10 million or whatever, but you need some reserve when you start the season.

Daniel McNair from Thomson, Ga.

You should have kept Caleb Huntley because he showed his skills on the field Saturday.

Bair: You weren't the only person who felt that way, Daniel. The majority of mailbag responses I got from the link at the bottom of the 53-man roster announcement dealt with Caleb Huntley and Qadree Ollison not making it.

Dealing with Huntley directly, he plays a competitive and impacted position. There just weren't enough roster spots to include those guys, especially with a similar rushing style to fifth-round draft pick Tyler Allgeier. He was always going to have an inside track and earned a spot with a solid summer. They were the odd men out there, without spots open. Avery Williams is the return man, Keith Smith is the fullback and Cordarrelle Patterson and Damien Williams were virtual locks.

Call for questions

Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Friday's Bair Mail.


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