The NFL season has one game left. The Super Bowl is upon us, with Sunday's game between the Eagles and Chiefs set to be a fun showdown.
After that, though, it's on.
- Arthur Blank more optimistic about Falcons' direction 'than I've been in many, many years'
- 'I love our young quarterback': Arthur Blank discusses Desmond Ridder
- Rookie Review: Desmond Ridder; Tyler Allgeier; Drake London; DeAngelo Malone, Troy Andersen
- Falcons positional breakdown: Quarterbacks; Running backs; Receivers; Tight ends; Offensive line, Defensive line; Edge rushers, Inside linebackers, Secondary
- Question of the Week: Who do you re-up in 2023?; Analyzing Nielsen, Gray hires; Pressing defensive needs
That's when action could heat up on contract extensions for current Falcons worthy of them. Then we've got the combine a few weeks after, then free agency and then the draft. The Falcons will look a lot different after all that than they do now. Let's dive into your questions about what the Falcons could/should/might do in this Friday Bair Mail.
Anthony White from Greensboro, Tenn./Augusta, Ga.
What do you feel about the possibility of bringing in another RB this offseason. CP has been great for us, but he's getting a bit older and some injuries have crept up on him. Is drafting another gem like Allgeier is the way to go, or bringing in another FA like they tried to do with Damien Williams last season the move for the Falcons?
Bair: You bring up an interesting point here, Anthony, that many overlook. Is running back a need? On the surface it's not. Look a little deeper and it might be, at least in a minor sense.
You're pretty set at feature back, with Tyler Allgeier emerging as a real three-down threat in the season's second half. It was good to see his efforts recognized league-wide, finishing fifth in offensive rookie of the year voting.
Allgeier allows Cordarrelle Patterson to move around a bit more to establish and exploit mismatches. That should help the receiver corps. Let's also recall that CP can be a tough runner between the tackles when he's healthy. The key is keeping him that way.
That brings us back to Anthony's point. Caleb Huntley suffered an Achilles’ injury near the end of the year. That's a long rehab. It's no lock that he'll return at the start of the season or if he'll have explosiveness and burst whenever he does. You might have to go out and get another option, especially with how much the Falcons run. I know part of that was out of necessity given the passing struggles, but this should be a run-first team moving forward. I say you go out and take another Day 3 pick and try to find another gem who can help in the short- and long-term. Maybe a vet on a prove-it deal if you don't like draft options, but a prove-it deal might be hard to come by for someone who knows they're the No. 3.
Dylan Pruitt from Douglasville, Ga.
Hey Scott, I have been a lifelong Falcons fan. Looking at the draft this year and the way the organization drafts using the BPA strategy.... Is there any scenario where you see the front office trading up in the draft to the #3 pick and see how the top 2 picks shake out and then take the BPA? It seems as though there are 4 can't miss prospects between Stroud, Young, Carter and Anderson Jr. With this strategy you guarantee that you get one of the 4 of them.
Bair: I'm going to combine this with Barry Wynn's inquiry about trading up for a non-quarterback, if you don't mind. I think the only scenario where you trade up is for a quarterback. If you fall in love with C.J. Stroud or Bryce Young or both and one's available at No. 3, maybe you make a move.
In my opinion, that's an unlikely scenario. Draft capital is solid platinum to a team building for the long term. Paying to move up that high is cost prohibitive for anything but a quarterback.
I love Will Anderson and Jalen Carter, but pass rushers are plentiful. You can get a good one (or two) without having to give up future capital. In terms of trades – if I'm GM, which I ain't – I would hope teams frantically trade up and draft four quarterbacks above me (let's add Anthony Richardson to the melee; what the heck) and push Tyree Wilson or Myles Murphy or the draft's best cornerback into my lap.
Bill Whitten from Killen, Ala.
After reading the Question of the Week: What is the Falcons most pressing defensive need? what are the chances the Falcons sign James Bradbury and Daron Payne in free agency and Myles Murphy in the draft? Would you be willing to spend your cap and first round draft money on that scenario?
Bair: I'd be down for that, Bill. I don't want to give James Bradberry a super-long deal, but two-ish years at a premium rate, plus a big investment in Daron Payne sounds good. And you know how I feel about Myles Murphy. Or Tyree Wilson if he falls to No. 8. Then you continue to supplement with guys like Kentavius Street and build real depth up front. Ryan Nielsen likes to bring pressure in waves.
There are some intriguing interior-line options in free agency. That's a good spot to spend. I also like the idea of adding veteran cornerback depth to go along with A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward. Hayward has tons of experience in the slot as well. If Isaiah Oliver comes back, you've got a good foursome. Going back to a shorter-term deal for a cornerback – you don't want too much long-term investment in the position with Terrell set for a big-time extension in the coming years.
Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.
Hi, Scott. We all know (hope) Ridder is the guy next year, but we need a veteran backup with starting experience. Mariota checks those boxes, is still on the roster relatively cheaply and knows the system.
Bair: I hear you on those points, Will. I would still expect Mariota to be released at some point around the start of the league year. The cap savings alone make it worthwhile regardless of how his year ended. Mariota's cap number in 2022 (per OTC): $4.250 million. Mariota's cap number in 2023: $14.5 million. And the Falcons can save $12 million in space – accounting for dead money, a net gain of $9.5 million.
You can get a quality backup quarterback and another possible starter or important depth piece for that. That assumes you're going with Ridder as the primary option. I think that's the better use of those funds, even if a new quarterback has to learn the system. You can address two or maybe even three areas of need over one.
Ernie Aldaco from Flowery Branch, Ga.
Hello Scott, hope you and the rest of the team are doing well. Just have a quick question. Is it becoming realistic that Derek Carr will be going to the Saints, if he is, does that make them the favorites for the division in the eyes of the media?
Bair: Derek Carr remains a Raider at this point, so nothing’s done yet. I would like to extend the second half of that statement to the NFC South quarterback situation. Nothing's done yet. I think each team in the division will make a quarterback move, major or minor (mostly major) in the coming months. That's why it's tough to handicap a wide-open division race that the Falcons can absolutely win if they play their cards right this offseason.
There's plenty left to sort out. I do think Carr will make whatever team he goes to better. There are a few NFC South teams who could be in play for him. It will be interesting to see if the Falcons see him twice next season.
Call for questions
We've got another mailbag coming up on Monday, and Tori McElhaney's got it!! Submit your questions for her right here for inclusion in that installment.
Join us as we take a look back at our favorite photos of our rookies from the 2022 Atlanta Falcons season.