After two straight playoff appearances, the Falcons fell short of the postseason in 2018. Just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl run, however, expectations remain high in Atlanta.
The Falcons took steps to improve their offensive line in this year's draft, selecting guard Chris Lindstrom and tackle Kaleb McGary in the first round, and they've added a number of players in the trenches through free agency. But what else does Atlanta need to do in order to get back to the NFL's title game?
In a recent piece for CBSSports.com, Sean Wagner-McGough lists three moves the Falcons need to make to achieve their ultimate goal.
First on his list is reaching a long-term extension with defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. The Falcons placed the franchise tag on Jarrett this offseason, ensuring he remains with the team in 2019, but general manager Thomas Dimitroff remains determined to get something more substantial in place.
"As we have said since the end of the season, getting a deal done with Grady is our priority," Dimitroff said in a team statement. "Applying the franchise tag to him does not change that in any way. Our aim is for Grady to be an integral part of our plan for many years to come and this allows us to extend our negotiating window."
Jarrett is one of the NFL's top penetrating interior defensive lineman. He recorded 52 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and a career-high six sacks in 14 games last season.
The second move Wagner-McGough believes the Falcons need to make is adding more depth to their defense. Atlanta did some of that in the draft, selecting defensive end John Cominsky and cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Miller, but injuries revealed a lack of depth at some key positions in 2018.
"The Falcons, in theory anyway, already made the big improvements they needed to make on offense in the draft by taking two offensive linemen in the first round," Wagner-McGough writes. "Their biggest priority now should be bolstering a defense that was their downfall a year ago.
"A year after losing so many important players to injury, the Falcons should realize the importance of depth. If they can manufacture some cap space, they should be a player in the late stages of free agency, when players with upside are available for relatively cheap."
Falcons coach Dan Quinn will take over defensive coordinator responsibilities in 2019, seeking to get closer to a true style of football he wants Atlanta to play on defense.
Finally, Wagner-McGough suggests the Falcons upgrade at kicker. Atlanta parted ways with longtime kicker Matt Bryant, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, this offseason, but they have stated their faith in Giorgio Tavecchio to handle the job.
Tavecchio was called upon to step in for Bryant in 2018 after he missed three games due to injury. Tavecchio made all five of his field goal attempts for Atlanta last season, including a 56-yarder against the New York Giants. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance against the Giants, in which he made all three of his field goal attempts and both of his extra-point attempts.