Welcome to Straight from the ’Beek! The Falcons are taking care of business in free agency with an eye on the NFL Draft – and you’ve got lots of questions. Just remember, all opinions here are mine unless noted otherwise.
And away we go.
Nick from Laurel, MD
Hey Beek. If you were in the position of Thomas Dimitroff, would you use this year’s draft to select a quarterback with dual-threat skills (like Lamar Jackson from Louisville)? Nothing against Matt Ryan, but he is coming up to his 12th season and it would be nice to see a younger quarterback that is a dual threat and could backup Ryan this upcoming season.
Matt: Hey, Nick. No, I would not. Matt Ryan, who has played 10 seasons by the way, is still playing at an elite level and takes very good care of himself. It’s conceivable he’ll play at least another five seasons, maybe more. I think having a capable backup at that position is crucial and I’m all for creating competition at every single position. Everyone knows what happened in Philadelphia when the backup (Nick Foles) had to step in and lead the team at the end of the season. And it’s happened before with success – like when Phil Simms broke his foot in 1990 and Jeff Hostetler led the Giants to a Super Bowl win. And there are more examples. But back to the Falcons – I think they’ll address more pressing needs in the draft and I’d be very surprised if they drafted a quarterback, even on Day 3 in the later rounds.
Gary from Salem, VA
Matt, I read where Johnny Manziel threw and there were about a dozen teams there to observe. Did the Falcons have anyone there? If yes, do you really believe the Falcons would ever be willing to extend a second chance after all they went through with Mike Vick?
Matt: According to at least one credible report, there were 13 teams in attendance to watch Manziel throw passes at the University of San Diego’s pro day on Thursday – and, no, the Falcons were not one of them. And let’s not overlook the fact that those teams could have been there scouting players from San Diego and not to see Manziel. Regardless, the teams included the Bears, Browns, Chargers, Giants, Chiefs, Jets, Patriots, Raiders, Titans, Lions, Jaguars, Panthers and Buccaneers. And for what it’s worth, the Raiders went and signed another quarterback after watching.
Chris from Stonewall, MS
Hey Beek! Thanks for the answer, and I feel the same as you. I believe Austin Hooper could possibly pick his brain and watch his body movements to learn a thing or two about blocking, as well as getting open.
Matt: Of course, and thanks for writing in and asking about newly signed tight end Logan Paulsen on Thursday. And in case you’re wondering, here are the final results from yesterday’s poll question.
Gavin from Ontario, Canada
Hey Matt. Thanks for answering the question yesterday. It’s fun to pretend … sometimes. So, you said that Aaron Donald would look good. Do we have any chance? Do you think the possible signing of Ndamukong Suh in L.A. might give a team (like us) a chance to put in a few offers? Same question about Zack Martin? I didn't mention the others because there is no chance, but like I said, it’s fun to pretend. (Ezekiel Elliot as a Falcon would be fun to see.) Thanks.
Matt: No, that was strictly fantasy football-like talk, Gavin. I mean, who knows what could happen down the road should any of those players become free agents one day, but it’s all speculation and … fantasy. Thanks for reading!
Timothy from Milledgeville, GA
Hey, Beek. What do you think about the Falcons drafting a quarterback and letting Matt Ryan walk to make salary cap room to retain our good players and build through the draft?
Matt: Why would anyone let a team's best and most important player walk?
Jeremiah from Decatur, GA
Hey, Matt. I keep hearing that the Falcons fans want a No. 3 wide receiver behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu. I believe Justin Hardy would be a great receiver. He has great hands and Taylor Gabriel has left. What are your thoughts?
Matt: Well, I think Hardy will have every opportunity to be that guy. But, as you pointed out, Gabriel has left and signed with the Bears – and the team will likely add another receiver to replace him. Ideally that player will possess the kind of size and speed to draw pressure away from Jones, who is still the best receiver on the planet.
Tom from Coventry, United Kingdom
Hi Beek. Keep the good posts coming. It helps me get through the long offseason, which is even worse over in the UK as I feel so out of touch with nothing on the tele until the season starts. My question is, what chance does Alex Gray have of making the roster for next year? It’s brilliant seeing a fellow Brit trying to make it in the NFL and even better that it’s for my beloved Falcons.
Matt: I expect Gray will be a completely different player than the one who showed up prior to last year’s training camp – his first season playing organized football. Remember, that preseason game in Miami back on Aug. 10 was the first game he had ever played in. Right now I think his goal is to dress for game days – and make some sort of contribution. We caught up with him as he was cleaning out his locker at the end of the season and he’s got a great outlook on the coming season. You can read about it here.
John from Johns Creek, GA
Matt Ryan is not built to play into his late 30's, like Brett Favre or Tom Brady. Our backup is 40-year-old Matt Schaub. I find it ludicrous to give Ryan $180,000,000 for six years. I would think a better contract is $100 million guaranteed for four years and a two-year incentive-based option. We're one injury away from Schaub. Personally, I have more faith in Mohamed Sanu's throwing ability and perfect QB rating than Schaub.
Matt: Wow, where do I start. $180 million? I have no idea where you’re getting these numbers from. Here’s a list of the highest-paid players at every position in the NFL, according to ESPN’s Bill Barnwell. Kirk Cousins has the highest annual salary at $28 million (in 2018) and Matthew Stafford’s three-year total is $87 million. Oh, and Schaub is 36. And I’ll leave this one at that.
Eric from Sandersville, GA
I get that Matt Ryan contract is a priority, but why haven't we at least called Ndamukong Suh for a visit to see if he is interested in Atlanta? And what would he consider to get a deal done? We are letting too many quality defensive linemen just go to the competition. What’s the use in having Matt Ryan if we gotta face a defensive line built to destroy any offensive line in the league?
Matt: Two thoughts here, Eric. How do you know that the Falcons haven’t at least called Suh’s representatives? And did you forget that the Falcons defense was a top-10 unit last season without Suh?
Jamie from Perkasie, PA
Hey Beek. Love your insight on the team. Been a huge Falcons fan since I was a kid, which is rough specially since I live in the Philadelphia area. Anyways, what do you think about moving Logan Paulsen to fullback? I know Coleman was a free agent last time I checked and have doubts of re-signing him. Your latest mock draft has us getting Mike Gisecki. I love that pick, mainly because he will be a superstar. And if we let him fall, he will most likely be a Saint since they need a tight end. What do you think about moving Paulsen to fullback, and going after Da’Shawn Hand in the second and converting him to DT?
Matt: Thanks for reading, Jamie. Paulsen hasn’t even taken a meaningful snap in a Falcons uniform and you already want to move him to fullback? Ha! I’m not so sure how he’d feel about that. And I get your point – you know there’s a need to upgrade the fullback position and would like the Falcons to pick Gesicki out of Penn State. I just don’t see all the position changes happening though, Jamie. However things shake out in free agency will affect what the Falcons do in the draft. And right now it appears that the Falcons’ biggest need is defensive tackle. But the draft is more than a month away and a lot can happen between now and then. Stay tuned. And since you referenced my latest mock draft, I’ve included it below.