Another crazy NFL playoff weekend has come and gone, with upsets galore during a riveting divisional round. That Bills-Chiefs game might've been one of the best contests I've ever seen, with all the drama one could ask for.
The Falcons are hoping to add the assets required to play deep into January posthaste, which is the primary focus of this Bair Mail. They now know they have the No. 58 overall pick, acquired as part of the Julio Jones trade, at their disposal. That draft slot was secured after the weekend's action.
Let's take a dive into your questions in this Monday mailbag.
Jerry B from Hinesville, Ga.
I think we should move down as far as possible and pick up another 2nd round pick. We already have 2 picks in the 2nd. That would be amazing to have 3 and maybe even gain some picks for 2023. This could help in case we need to trade up to get Matt Ryan's predecessor next year. How do you feel about moving down for this purpose?
Bair: I do think trading down is a real and attractive option for a team with a top 10 pick and tons of needs. That may be a spot to move for a team to take the first quarterback off the board, and QB-needy teams almost always overpay. It could be a time to move down if there's an early run on offensive tackles and edge rushers, which many expect. The Falcons have several needs, and draft assets are the best way to fill them. Second-round picks can be gold, even if you have to push some of the payout into the 2023 season. It'll be worth it in the long run.
As always, trading down is contingent on the compensation package offered in relation to how far down you must drop. The Falcons plan for every possibility before the draft and will be ready for any offer that comes their way during the NFL Draft.
Chris Atlas from Marietta, Ga.
Whatever happens with Patterson and Gage, we need to shore up our receivers group. I won't even entertain the possibility of asking about OBJ or Josh Gordon, but what about Cedrick Wilson from Dallas? Or how about Marquise Goodwin, Emmanuel Sanders? Thanks for the great work as always from you and the team.
Bair: I agree, Chris, that receiver has to be address no matter what happens with Russell Gage, Cordarrelle Patterson and Calvin Ridley. A drafted receiver would help, but a sage veteran would go a long way in fortifying the group. I also appreciate you tempering expectations on free-agent receivers. I like the Emmanuel Sanders option for sure. I've covered a team with him on it before, and it's a good leader of the meeting room. Marquise Goodwin? Meh. Cedrick Wilson isn’t a vet but could be a solid pickup. Overall, I like where your head's at.
Also, I still think the Falcons should re-sign Gage if they can and keep Ridley, if possible. They should add to the position group no matter what in order to strengthen the group in the short and long term.
DeWitt Maddox from Bloomingdale, Ga.
How do you like the prospect of Nakobe Dean as our 8th pick. With him on one side, Deion Jones on the other and Foye Oloukun in the middle . With their speed this could be a deadly combination. It could also free up a safety to help in secondary coverage. Your thoughts?
Bair: I've gotten lots of questions about Nakobe Dean. I'm not sure I'd go that route in the first round. I know we talk a lot about best player available, but that's adding to a team strength, where Deion Jones is getting paid and Foye Oluokun might also be in line for a big raise from the Falcons. And they have Mykal Walker waiting in the wings. There are bigger areas to prioritize to upgrade this defense, even though there's no disputing Dean's talent. It was on display all year, but is he the right pick for these Falcons?
Judy King from Atlanta
Are the Falcons still strapped for money because of what we're having to pay Julio Jones and others. Do you the favor…I think the Falcons are gonna be able to get anyone decent in free agency.
Bair: While the Falcons still have $15 million in dead money on the books for Julio Jones in 2022, per overthecap.com, that's not the only cap issue they've got. Most of their cap space is tied into Matt Ryan, Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett and Jake Matthews, and a few of those deals were restructured to push heavy cap numbers to this season. The Falcons will just have to be disciplined and work their way out of it.
That's why it seems, to me at least, that the Falcons will sit out initial waves of free agency and focus on shorter-term deals later in the open market period.
Kevin Fitzpatrick from Conyers, Ga.
Over the last couple of years I've seen suggestions for Kaleb McGary to move inside to guard. I have faith in our coaching staff to put players in the best place to succeed but maybe he was just the best option we had at tackle. Do you think he could succeed at guard? I see a massive guy with a road grade mentality. Am I wrong?
Bair: I'm no offensive line expert, but Kaleb McGary has been a career tackle both in the NFL and the college ranks. Switching positions would be a major undertaking and I'm curious whether McGary would be game for such an idea. Guards generally get paid a lot less than tackles, and it's a different skill set inside. Not all can make such a switch. For right now, I'm betting he'll stay at tackle. Whether the Falcons add some competition there is another matter. I'm of the opinion that they will.
Charlie C from Boulder, Colo.
Scott, when and how long do you think that it's going to take for Arthur smith to find a replacement running back coach for Des Kitchings?
Bair: Head coach Arthur Smith said he plans to take his time hiring a new running backs coach after Des Kitchings left for the University of Virginia. As of now, that's the only opening on the coaching staff. Here's what Smith had to say about it.
"We'll take our time before we fill the running back job," Smith said in his end-of-season press conference. "We'll talk to a lot of people. There's a lot of movement going on. Right now, that's the only movement we've had, but you just can't predict the future. There's a ripple effect depending who gets what job. We'll see. We'll take our time and make sure it's the right person we bring in here."
Call for questions
The mailbag rolls on three days per week during the offseason, so submit your questions right here for inclusion in Wednesday's Bair Mail.