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State of Falcons offensive unit after first wave of free agency

Atlanta has been busy retooling the offense since the start of the 2024 league year, adding a QB1 and multiple receivers to the mix. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The first wave of free agency has come and gone. And with it came a handful of acquisitions that truly have the capability to change the offense in Atlanta, specifically.

That's what we're here to talk about. We'll take a look at the defense Friday, but right now? The offense has our focus as we recap the early moves of the 2024 season and how they can change team decisions as the 2024 NFL Draft inches closer.


Key free agency moves

Editor's note: Contract details have been compiled from

QB Kirk Cousins, signing: Four-year, $180 million contract with $90 million fully guaranteed; to take up 9.6% of 2024 salary cap

WR Darnell Mooney, signing: Three-year, $39 million contract with $26 million fully guaranteed; to take up 2.9% of 2024 salary cap

TE Charlie Woerner, signing: Three-year, $12 million contract with $4.16 million fully guaranteed; to take up 1% of 2024 salary cap

WR Rondale Moore, trade: Acquired from Arizona Cardinals in trade of QB Desmond Ridder; one year left on contract with a cap number at $1.6 million

WR/KR Ray-Ray McCould III, signing: Two-year contract, details not reported

WR KhaDarel Hodge, re-signing: One-year, $1.29 million contract with $167,500 fully guaranteed

OL Storm Norton, re-signing: One-year, $1.29 million contract with $550,000 fully guaranteed

OL Ryan Neuzil, re-signing: One-year, $985,000 contract


Positions of need

Wide receiver: Outside of Kirk Cousins' contract, the Falcons spent much of their cap space this offseason on rebuilding the wide receiver position. This was a serious undertaking considering Drake London was the only receiver under contract from 2023 into 2024. What began as a one-person room when the new league year began has since turned into a core of five a week later, a much faster core of five at that. And even with the position increasing in size numerically, there may still be room for more.

Could that "more" come by way of the draft? Funny you should ask. That's one of the biggest questions remaining for this unit, which is the final section of this article.

Viable options on Day 1 of 2024 NFL Draft at WR position: Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State), Malik Nabers (LSU), Rome Odunze (Washington), Brian Thomas Jr. (LSU), Adonai Mitchell (Texas), Ladd McConkey (Georgia), Xavier Worthy (Texas), Keon Coleman (FSU)

Offensive linemen: The five-person starting unit of Jake Matthews, Matthew Bergeron, Drew Dalman, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary is not likely to change to begin the 2024 season this fall. That group is as sure a position as the Falcons have. They have shown to be successful together, and there are few offensive lines across the league that have as many game reps experienced together as this group.

When speaking to offensive line coach Dwayne Ledford, though, he said one of his primary goals this season was to really firm up depth beyond this starting five. Why? Well, this is the National Football League, after all. To start and finish the season with the same core five is a notion to hope for but never guaranteed. Very rarely does it happen just because of the nature of the position itself. Injuries happen. They happened last year. And yet, through the stepping in of players like Norton at tackle and Neuzil at center, the Falcons didn't really miss a beat up front.

Perhaps that's why Norton and Neuzil are back. However, there is the belief that one can never have too many linemen. So, yes, even in the sure footing this position group has going into 2024, the line of scrimmage is always going to be a position of need no matter how good you feel about the starters.

Viable options on Day 1 of 2024 NFL Draft at OL position: Olumuyiwa Fashanu (OT, Penn State), Joe Alt (OT, Notre Dame), Taliese Fuaga (OT/OG, Oregon State), JC Latham (OT, Alabama), Amarius Mims (OT, Georgia), Jackson Powers-Johnson (Oregon)

Quarterback: OK, hear us out before you freak out. Yes, the Falcons have QB1. That's Cousins. And yes, they probably have their backup in 2024, too. That's Taylor Heinicke. However, what they don't have on the roster is a future quarterback. It's weird to talk about the next step at quarterback even without Cousins taking the first snap as a Falcons. But this is how the machine works. You're always thinking about what's next, and to not have at least the thought of what comes after Cousins when he is 35 years old is a bit negligent. Now, does that mean you draft "what's next?" Unsure, but I am surely not counting out the idea that the Falcons could double-dip in the quarterback market, first in free agency and then in the draft.

Viable options on Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft at QB position: Caleb Williams (USC), Drake Maye (UNC), Jayden Daniels (LSU), J.J. McCarthy (Michigan), Michael Penix Jr. (Washington), Bo Nix (Oregon)

Biggest question remaining

How much will the Falcons value offensive weapons early in the 2024 NFL Draft?

For the last three years, the Falcons have drafted an offensive weapon with their first overall pick in the draft (Kyle Pitts at No. 4 in 2021 and then Drake London and Bijan Robinson at No. 8 in 2022 and 2023, respectively). The case could be made that the Falcons didn't necessarily need to draft any of these three. They had enough bodies in the tight end, wide receiver and running back room when Pitts, London and Robinson were drafted with three top-10 picks in consecutive years. So, it begs the question: Will they do that once again? Whether it be adding another No. 8 overall pick to go along with London at the wide receiver position? Or a future quarterback? If history is indeed precedent, then this may not be a far fetched idea at all.

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