This is our third Bair Mail of the week. It has been a while since that happened. Hopefully you've enjoyed this many in a single week, especially when bringing different voices into the fray.
Tori, as always, came through. Ashton did well in his Bair Mail debut.
Also, that rhymed, which was unexpected and fun.
- Ashton's Answers (aka Bair Mail): On Desmond Ridder, free agency, 2023 NFL draft and Blake Corum
- Offseason checklist, Pt. II: Planning for NFL combine, filling out coaching staff and more
- Mock Draft Roundup: CBS analyst has Falcons picking Penn State CB
- Question of the Week: Who do you re-up in 2023?; Analyzing Nielsen, Gray hires; Pressing defensive needs, What to glean from Super Bowl
I decided my installment would try to tie up some loose ends from the week, so I got five questions in. Tarik N, your answer on Daron Payne is coming. A detailed question like yours requires a detailed reply. And I got sleepy. Ha.
We talk lots of draft and quarterback options in this Friday mailbag, plus some other stuff you want to discuss. Let's get to it.
Christopher Knight from Dunwoody, Ga.
Hey Scott, in a year where we could use talent or depth with any/all positions, wouldn't it be wise to trade back and acquire more picks? 8 overall could be of value to a team with an extra 1st or 2nd round pick (Detroit & Seattle), if offered their late 1st + 2nd or 3rd, should we take it and who would we get?
Bair: I have a tough time evaluating specific draft trades at this point in the pre-draft process, but I was just pondering a possible trade down the other day. If Myles Murphy and Tyree Wilson are gone, I'm making phone calls. That's especially true if one of the quarterbacks is left on the board and QB starved Carolina is sitting right be behind me at No. 9.
If you can go down a little bit and get Iowa's Luke Van Ness or one of the top cornerbacks, you gotta do it. Analysts say this draft class is crazy deep with edge rushers. I believe them. There should be plenty of options to augment the pass rush, from the edge or inside, with additional draft capital. I'd even consider taking some for 2024 if the price is right.
Gaz Hirst from England, U.K.
Hello from not so sunny England! Well, that was a decent season and the team really have started to take steps in the right direction. My question is this... Should we sign Derek Carr after his release from the Raiders? He's a proven starter and would be competing with Ridder at training camp for the starting gig and at worst a good quality back up if Ridder gets the job. What do you think?
Bair: I do think Derek Carr's release from the Raiders changes things a bit. I wouldn't have traded for him but I would consider signing him. A few things on that prospect, though. Carr won't come cheap. You'd be headed for an upper-tier price point for a quarterback and you'd be bringing him in as an unquestioned starter. Full stop. Is it worth it? Or do you go with someone on a rookie deal and build up the team around him? Carr's market value isn't known at this time – the Saints and Panthers reportedly have interest – and there will be competition for his services. You in on a possible bidding war with division rivals? Can't say I am, and I'm one of the biggest Carr-stans around after covering him for so long in Oakland. As always, it's all about value.
Anthony Turner from Fort Mill, S.C.
I'm just hoping that Smith & Fontenot are not so sold on the best player available theme if a QB like CJ Stroud is available & they make mistake & pick him. Not that Stroud is not a good QB , he is . But this is the year Atlanta needs to do nothing but load up mostly on defensive personnel, either by F. A. or the draft. … Remember, defense wins championships. If want an example, go back & look at the Super bowl. It wasn't just all offense.
Bair: I hear you, Anthony, and I tend to agree with your sentiment. I also think that quarterback is the exception to the "best player available" rule. If you need and love a quarterback atop the NFL draft, move mountains to get him. Whether a QB or, say, Jalen Carter, is the best player available doesn't matter. You take the most important position and secure what you believe to be your franchise quarterback of the future. Kyle Shanahan always says there aren't 32 starting NFL quarterbacks on this earth at a given time. I tend to agree. That position doesn't factor in, in my opinion, atop the draft. Maybe Terry Fontenot disagrees. This is just me talking here.
All that said, I don't think the Falcons are quarterback starved. Desmond Ridder is a good player who showed well on the field, as a hard worker and as a team captain. The Falcons need talent at most spots and should create the best team around a somewhat promising quarterback and see how it goes. If there's need for a quarterback after that, then so be it. Again, that's just me talking. Who knows what they'll do in the QB market, and with free agency in general, before the draft. I think that will say a lot about their approach to Ridder and the top of the NFL draft.
Krepton from Savannah, Ga.
I have been seeing a few articles suggesting that the Bears might have interest in a QB with the #1 pick. Atlanta is being mentioned as a landing spot if Fields gets traded. Would he be a fit for the Falcons and would he be an upgrade over Ridder?
Bair: Justin Fields evaluation can be pretty subjective. And, as I'm sure you recall when he was coming out of Ohio State, Fields can also be pretty polarizing.
So please take my opinion as exactly that. It's just what I think, not absolute fact. I'm not a huge fan. I understand that he's a dynamic runner who can make occasional magic with his arm. I'm just not sure he's as consistent a passer as I'd like. I know he had protection issues in Chicago, but his completion percentage just isn't high enough for me. And I'm a big believer in mobile quarterbacks, but he seems to enhance injury risk with the way he runs.
So, in relation to the Falcons, I don't see it. They had a chance to take him at No. 4 in 2021 and passed. And, this scenario would involve significant draft capital, you'd think, and I don't think the Falcons are in position to give up swings at the plate.
Final point: Is he an upgrade over Desmond Ridder? I'm not so sure he is by a significant margin. Again, that's just my opinion.
Peter Grangaard from Waukon, Iowa
On the last mail bag, Tori discussed free agents. Which of our free agents will be re-signed and which will move on? One player I didn't see in either group was Parker Hesse. With the snaps he played last season as a TE and on special teams do you see him coming back to the Falcons. I hope so but I am bias as he was my son's t-ball coach when Parker was in high school.
Bair: That was clearly an oversight because there's no bigger Parker Hesse fan than Tori. She created the term "Hesse Hive" for those who relish when he makes big plays. I, too, am a member, so I would 100 percent bring him back. He does so many things for Arthur Smith's offense, he's a big locker room favorite and he's an exclusive rights free agent, so he's a virtual lock to return at a reasonable rate.
Call for questions
Submit your questions right here for inclusion in Monday's mailbag. I think it'll be me (aka Scott), but it's anybody's guess at this point. Ha.
Join us as we take a look back at our favorite photos on defense from the 2022 Atlanta Falcons season.