The Falcons likely need quarterback. Maybe soon.
AJ McCarron's injured right knee seems to make adding one a top priority, even before a Sunday MRI provides clarity on the veteran quarterback's status.
There's rational concern that McCarron suffered a serious injury that could sideline him an extended term. Even if it's not quite so serious, general manager Terry Fontenot might need another quarterback to help get through the remaining preseason stretch. Even a relatively minor knee sprain could keep McCarron out a few weeks at least, with Matt Ryan and Feleipe Franks as the only healthy quarterbacks available. They could stand pat and go with just two passers, but adding one seems a more likely course of action.
Head coach Arthur Smith wasn't ready to commit to adding a quarterback on Saturday night, saying he'll wait instead for McCarron's test results.
"You're always going to look to improve the team," he said. "We're going to have to assess and see what the injury is. Until we get an MRI – we're always looking to improve the roster. If it is long-term, we could continue to look."
There are some options on the free agent market, though there aren't a ton with all NFL rosters at 85. A lot of quarterbacks are currently employed who won't be after final roster cuts, but the Falcons may need somebody sooner.
Let's examine some options currently available on the free-agent market should they need a quarterback right away:
The former top 10 NFL Draft pick is available after the 49ers released him last week, and his raw skill, draft status and UCLA college career make him an intriguing option. He has bounced around a ton for such a young player, thus far unable to establish himself with a franchise or as a proficient NFL quarterback.
That said, he's only 24 years old, and the Falcons could try to help him realize potential. Working with Smith and Ryan might be of great benefit to Rosen's development. There's no starting job available, so he could focus on learning the offense, refining skill and preparing for the unwelcome occurrence that he's called upon during the regular season. Rosen could come in here and compete with Franks and, there's nothing lost if he doesn't mesh or Franks shows the progress required to inspire confidence he could be the No. 2 quarterback.
Here's another former top 10 pick who hasn't lived up to his selection. He has made stops with the L.A. Rams, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos since leaving the Jacksonville Jaguars. Bortles is a big dude with a big arm, though his 59.4-percent completion rate suggests accuracy is not a strong suit.
He has been around the block, with experience as a backup and what that role entails. He's the type who could get you through a game at a moment's notice, with experience that Franks obviously doesn't have.
Get an inside look at the matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Miami Dolphins in the second preseason game of 2021.
Robert Griffin III
Yet another top 10 pick is available, though Griffin has had some periods of success during a decently long career. He's a respected locker-room presence, especially after working out well as a reserve in Baltimore. He does have a media deal working for ESPN, so he might not get be willing to come back for the veteran minimum.
He has leverage others on the open market right now don't own, which might make it tougher to land him. Time will tell there, if the Falcons choose to reach out.
Let's make a deal
The Falcons could try to swing a trade for someone they liked coming out of this year's draft, though that wouldn't replace McCarron's veteran presence. They could get a quarterback like that for a lower-round draft pick if they wanted to go down that route, which might suggest confidence Franks can do the No. 2 job if McCarron is in fact unavailable this season. It'd be tough to see the Falcons giving up something substantial for a backup quarterback at this stage, though anything's possible. We should have an update on McCarron at some point on Sunday, providing a clear picture of what the Falcons must do to fortify their quarterback room.