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Bair Mail: On Odell Beckham Jr. prospects, Arthur Smith forming Falcons identity and defensive bright spots

Your questions get answers in Friday's mailbag


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons have a massive game coming up Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. A victory there would be worth a lot more than bragging rights. It would vault the Falcons right into the thick of the playoff hunt entering the second half of the season.

Many of you would like Odell Beckham Jr. to be wearing red and black while that happened. The star receiver's release from Cleveland has most every fan base dreaming about their team making a waiver claim on him, Falcons faithful included.


Others are more focused on the game, and what head coach Arthur Smith is building over a longer term. We'll get to all that in Friday's edition of Bair Mail. Let's get to it:

Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.

Any interest in OBJ? Please explain your answer. Thanks, as always, for y'all's work.

Bair: You're among a large contingent of folks, Will, who are interested in whether the Falcons will put in a waiver claim on Odell Beckham Jr., who parted ways with the Cleveland Browns after restructuring his contract to increase the likelihood of a team picking him up.

Y'all think the Falcons should do it. So do most other fan bases looking for a dynamic upgrade to the receiver corps. That's especially true for the Falcons, who are currently operating without Calvin Ridley.

Even Cordarrelle Patterson is pushing for it on social media.

All that doesn't mean you should expect the Falcons to end up claiming him, assuming he even makes it to the Falcons place in the waiver order. Everyone hates it when I explain why the Falcons aren't players for bigger names hitting the market in-season. Cap space. It's a real issue. And before you point to the Rams or Saints, the Falcons are actively trying to work their way out of an inherited cap mess.

Right now, per ESPN, their cap situation looks like this:

Even if Beckham's cap number drops, it won't go that low. And, are the Falcons going to stomach what's left on the deal – we haven't seen exact restructure figures – or deal with complications on the back end? The Falcons are doing everything they can to win now, without sacrificing future plans. In my opinion, that claiming Beckham doesn't fit with what they're currently trying to do with the team. Hate to be a downer, but I don't see it happening. Could they, through? Stranger things have happened, but not many.

Mack Guynn from Woodland, Calif.

I keep hearing from pundits that the Falcons haven't found their identity yet as a team…not sure what they mean but is it a key defensive stand to win a game or a last second offensive play to win a game?

Falcons seem to be headed in right direction under current leadership which I believe will result in a quality playoff team in the future but some growing pains are inevitable.

Bair: Standing for something is important, Mack, and the Falcons want to stand for some core values under head coach Arthur Smith. He identified some of those characteristics in a recent press conference, so I'll let him describe the type of team he's trying to build.

"We'll see how the roster evolves but, at the end of the day, we're going to play well on the line of scrimmage," Smith said. "We're going to be able to adapt. We're going to play smart situational football, and we're going to be able to finish games. That's what I want [people to say about us]."

Mike S. from Calgary

Alright Scott, aside from Grady [Jarrett] and AJ [Terrell] the defense leaves a lot to be desired... can you give us any other names to keep an eye on to give us hope this defense [can be better].

Bair: You can't forget the linebacker corps. Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun constitute an excellent pair. And keep an eye on Jaylinn Hawkins. He has a bright future, with the size and smarts to be an excellent, versatile safety in this league. He has had some nice moments, and I think there's more on the way.

I'm still interested in Marlon Davidson's development as well. Avery Williams is a guy to watch as the Falcons look for long-term solutions at slot cornerback.

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