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Bair Mail: On Richie Grant, DeMarcco Hellams, Desmond Ridder and the 2024 quarterback market

We discuss possible personnel changes coming out of the bye and what would lead the Falcons toward adding a new signal caller

I'd like to start this Wednesday edition of Bair Mail by addressing something Joe Carroll from Denver brought up in the mailbag.

He has noticed a decrease in Bair Mail frequency, and he's right. I was doing three Q+As per week last year and that number has dropped to two. We go on Wednesdays and Fridays now, with alterations for holiday weeks and byes.

It has nothing to do with negative/critical questions in the mailbag. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't address issues the fan base has with this team and have addressed the prospect of firing a head coach and benching a quarterback and the usage of some star players. Have to do it.

We've dropped to twice a week because we've got TONS of content coming your way and my attention has been diverted a bit to some different things. I bring all this up because Joe asked a fair question that I'm sure several of you were wondering so I thought I'd clear things up. I do enjoy these mailbags, especially hearing from new readers and regulars whom I feel like I've come to know over the past three years.

Positive or negative, I welcome all questions and comments, even if it's real talk. As always, you can submit them right here. So let's get to a few of yours on this fine Wednesday:


Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.

Hi, Scott. Right to the point: Is Richie Grant still a starter coming out of the bye? And please explain your reasoning to us. Thanks.

Bair: Always appreciate hearing from you, Will. And since you got straight to the point, I'll do the same. I would anticipate Richie Grant being a starter coming out of the bye. It was plain that the third-year safety struggled against Arizona, with Cardinals tight end Trey McBride even mentioning postgame that he felt comfortable beating him one-on-one.

That's never what you want to hear. The Central Florida product has struggled at times, sure, but he has also made some big plays for this team while navigating as diverse role as a deep safety who ventures into the box or slot. Overall, though, I don't think he has been quite as bad overall as the post-Cardinals recency bias suggests. I can admit, however, that he hasn't been perfect.

Your question, Will, is actually a two-parter. It's an evaluation of Grant's performance and the other options available. Jaylinn Hawkins is no longer on the team, leaving either DeMarcco Hellams and Micah Abernathy as options. Hellams comes in as a third safety, but I'm not sure if he's ready for a three-down role like Grant's. Don't think Abernathy is either.

Now, it's possible that we see a decrease in Grant's role – taking some aspect of it away and giving it to Hellams – but I still think he's a major contributor after the bye. That said, I've been wrong before. Just ask my wife. Ha.

Arthur Smith said there would be personnel changes, but I could see alterations to rotations and roles over straight player swaps, with some possibly coming to the defensive line, possibly safety and receiver, and maybe even in carry dispersion.

Kerry Miller from Centerville, Ga.

Scott, I really believe that going with Ridder is the best move for the rest of the season. First, the offense to this untrained eye looks more dynamic with Ridder under center. He just seems to have a higher ceiling right now. The question of course is can he cut down the turnovers and give the Falcons a chance to win. Second, the Falcons really need to figure out if Ridder is the guy for long term. This will be vital for the Falcons to figure out and will shape the direction for next year.

Bair: I agreed with the move to try Taylor Heinicke at the time and I agree with the move to go back to Ridder. Heinicke provided a spark versus Tennessee and scored a bunch of points against Minnesota, but I didn't think he was discernably better than Ridder, who is much younger and needs to develop. Going back to Ridder makes sense because he could be pretty good if he can cut down on critical mistakes. The Falcons moved the ball under Ridder but couldn't finish drives.

At this point, you could end this season with required outcomes. You make the playoffs and find out if you have a solution behind center, or things don't work out and you probably have to dip into the quarterback market. That's obviously not ideal, but at least you'd know where the position stands heading into the offseason.

Gary High from Fort Hood, Tex./Stone Mountain, Ga.

Should Falcons draft A QB with their 1st round pick, because there are several of them this year.

Bair: Can't answer this question quite yet, Gary. We have to wait and see what Desmond Ridder does over the next seven games. If he's excellent, maybe the Falcons give him another year and continue to improve the team around him, most notably with a young, explosive pass rusher or two.

If he struggles or, in my opinion, looks the same as he did over his eight previous starts this season, I would say that the Falcons take to the quarterback market this offseason. The free agent class isn't very good and analysts say the NFL Draft's quarterback class is deep, so it's possible the Falcons could get a good one without a top 5 pick. That would be the most expensive position at an affordable price point and allow the team to extend others and bring in more veterans. The Falcons have stuck the landing a few times with first-round quarterbacks (see Ryan, Matt and Vick, Michael) and could do so again if necessary. That wouldn't take Ridder out of the equation, either, allowing him to battle it out for another year.

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the New Orleans Saints.

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