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Falcons GM: We want more 'game-wreckers' on roster

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn will spend the next few months evaluating their roster.

Change will happen as it does each year, but this offseason could be a little different from previous years.


The Falcons will be looking to add more difference-makers or, more specifically, game-wreckers to the roster in addition to expectations for several players to take the next step.

"We feel we have game-wreckers [but] we feel we want to increase our amount of game-wreckers no question," Dimitroff said at the Senior Bowl. "Our playmakers, our game-wreckers, we feel we have a good group of those guys. They need to continue to step up as we do within all the organization to make sure we're providing our coaches with game wreckers. We're expecting big things out of the players we believe are that."

After back-to-back seasons without a trip to the postseason and Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank saying a 7-9 record will not be acceptable moving forward, Dimitroff acknowledged the importance of continuing to acquire players who can make a difference on the field.

"This is a big season for us to continue to acquire those guys," Dimitroff said. "We'll have to make some difficult moves to create cap space. So, we will be unfortunately losing some players so we're going to have to be ready to replace."

Dimitroff has stressed that regardless of several players being on significant long-term deals, the Falcons will not be handicapped by their cap space situation moving forward.

The roster is expected to be built with the players who give the Falcons the best chance to be a contender in 2020 and Dimitroff is confident he can find creative ways to ensure that is the case.

"I'm not concerned about it being a situation where we are going to be in what has been perceived out there as cap hell," Dimitroff said. "It's not the case at all. We will accomplish what we need to accomplish to continue to bring the right players in here to be a contender.

As for players who Dimitroff believes are game-wreckers for the Falcons, it starts with wide receiver Julio Jones on offense. Matt Ryan also continues to play at a high level and the emergence of Calvin Ridley over the last two years is encouraging.

After an offseason dedicated to rebuilding the offensive line in 2019, Dimitroff is encouraged by the play of first-year players Kaleb McGary and Chris Lindstrom. Alex Mack and Jake Matthews have continued to be consistent at center and left tackle over the last few years.

Left guard, however, looks to certainly be a position the Falcons will explore via free agency or the draft.

The defensive side of the ball is where Dimitroff expects a number of players to take the next step, starting with former first-round pick Takk McKinley.

"I would love to see Takk McKinley take it to another level," Dimtiroff said. "He has so much ability and upside for us. His fire and passion are what we're looking for. I can't wait for him to get into this season and get healed up after his surgery, that's going to be an important thing for us."

Dimitroff is high on the potential of a few of his younger players in the secondary including free safety Damontae Kazee and cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver.

"Continue to watch guys like Kazee and our evolving corners coming in with Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver," Dimitroff said. "They need to continue to wreck games and make big plays, bat balls down, pick off balls."

Linebacker Deion Jones is someone the Falcons have invested in as he was signed to a four-year contract extension ahead of the 2019 season. Jones plays a significant role in Atlanta's defense and is someone Dimitroff wants to see him consistently make an impact.

"Same kind of thing; get Debo in there," Dimitroff said. "Let's roll, man it's time. He can shut down players for sure, [we] want him to keep flying around the field and turning games upside down because he has the ability to do that. There aren't many people who can run with some of the receivers and running backs underneath that we expect him to do. Can't wait to see that more consistently because he has the ability to do that."

And to cap it off, Dimitroff continues to have high expectations for Pro Bowl defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who was Atlanta's best player on defense in 2019.

"We have massive expectations for [Grady] and what he can do," Dimitroff said. "Not only is he always getting a sack, but he's always disrupting, and he is such a motivator for our defense."

The Falcons have the No. 16 overall pick in April's draft and have two picks in the second round after they traded Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots during the season.

Whether it's through free agency or the draft, Dimitroff will be active in ensuring he gets Atlanta's roster in the best place possible.

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