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Falcons 'will be aggressive' when looking for 'right, not close' quarterback

General manager Terry Fontenot knows the Falcons have to find the right player for QB1 and will do what it takes to get him.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Atlanta Falcons are in line at the quarterback dart board.

There are a lot options — via the draft, a trade or free agency — but the Falcons have only one chance at whoever they decide is their desired target. They have to make the most of it. The shot has to be a bullseye.

"I am very excited about where we are, but we will be aggressive and we have to make this total team better," Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said in an exclusive interview with "Clearly, we're going to get the quarterback position right, not close."

The existing market opens on March 13 with the new league year. The draft is then April 25-27.

Fontenot and head coach Raheem Morris are currently in Indianapolis for the NFL Combine, as the Falcons' search for a quarterback specifically zeroes in on college prospects this week. They have been evaluating the class and will continue to until a decision is a made, even if that decision is to go a different route.

"It's been difficult throughout the years, right?" Morris said of evaluating college quarterbacks. "We all evaluated Tom Brady wrong. We drafted him in the sixth round. And he turned out to be one of the best players, if not the best quarterback in the National Football League we've ever seen."


The national consensus for the top-ranked quarterbacks in this year's draft class are Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (North Carolina), Jayden Daniels (LSU), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington) and Bo Nix (Oregon). Others include J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), Michael Pratt (Tulane), Joe Milton (Tennessee), Spencer Rattler (South Carolina), Sam Hartman (Notre Dame) and more. There were 14 quarterbacks total invited to the event.

Team interviews for the quarterbacks began Tuesday and will resume Wednesday and Friday. The position group has the general medical exam Thursday. Their measurements and on-field workout are Saturday, and their bench press is Sunday before departing.

Fontenot and Morris will meet with select quarterbacks throughout the week.

"It's a strong draft overall," Fontenot said. "The quarterback position is strong, and you have some different types and guys that do it different ways."

The Falcons hold the No. 8 overall pick in the first round — at the moment.

"We're wide open," Fontenot said. "We could move up. We could move back. We could stay right at (No.) 8."

Atlanta last drafted a quarterback in 2022 with Desmond Ridder out of the third round. The Falcons haven't acquired a quarterback in the first round since Matt Ryan in 2008. They used the No. 3 overall pick on Ryan.

Ridder played the final four games of his rookie season, going 2-2, and then compiled a 6-7 record as a starter last season. Morris said during his combine availability that he hasn't had conversations about 2024 with Ridder yet.

Ryan was the Falcons starter from 2008-21, reaching a 120-102 record with six playoff appearances. Atlanta traded Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in 2022 for a third-round draft pick.

Since then, the quarterback position has been a revolving door that saw Ridder, Taylor Heinicke, Logan Woodside and Marcus Mariota pass through. The team's record never changed regardless of who was under center in the post-Ryan era, going 7-10 from 2021-23.

"I think Terry is speaking for our fans, the aggressive mentality to go out and find a quarterback to go win," Morris said. "That is what he's talking about. He wants to have an aggressive mindset to go get somebody to help us win long term and short term."

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