FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Earlier this week, Scott Bair took you through the Falcons 2023 roster as it stands post-the-first-few-waves-of-free-agency and post-draft-weekend. He called it the state of the Falcons 2023 roster. But we all know, this roster is going to continue to churn.
The free agency market essentially resets after the draft. Older veterans' price tags change a bit while organizations' needs alter when draft weekend comes to its conclusion. The draft has a way of shaking things up in that regard.
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The Falcons have a pretty full roster already. They spent millions of dollars in free agency actively trying to improve the defense. The defense, outside of a handful of returning starters, will look drastically different than it has the last two years. There is quite a bit of turnover there. Offensively, the Falcons brought back almost the entirety of its 2022 offensive line. Chris Lindstrom got a contract extension and Kaleb McGary was signed to a three-year deal. Jake Matthews signed his extension last year while Drew Dalman is still on his rookie contract.
With Desmond Ridder under center, the Falcons have a wealth of targets for him in Drake London, Kyle Pitts and recently acquired receivers like Scotty Miller, Mack Hollins and tight end Jonnu Smith. Oh, and one can't forget the running backs: Tyler Allgeier, Cordarrelle Patterson and - of course - Bijan Robinson.
This roster is pretty dang set, and it's May 4th. It's been a few years since someone could say that about Atlanta, but here we are nonetheless.
But don't get too comfortable, that 90-man roster that teams enter into training camp with always fluctuates before the heat of camp is upon us. So, with this in mind, which parts of this roster - at this point - could use continued beefing up? I'm glad you asked. I have some ideas.
I won't lie: I had the Falcons taking at least one receiver in this year's draft. I thought they could still use someone - if not some... two (I know, that was lame). I thought a wide receiver in the second or third round was a no-brainer. But, I was wrong. That didn't happen. Instead the Falcons continued to prioritize the line of scrimmage in the draft, and let free agency do a little bit of work for them.
On Thursday, the Falcons added Georgia State alum Penny Hart to the roster, signing him to a one-year deal. He joins Miller and Hollins as the free agents in the group. Add on London, KhaDarel Hodge and Frank Darby and you have a pretty full room of receivers. But I'd like one more if I am being honest.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Falcons have $14 million in cap space, but that number does not include the adjustments made for the incoming draft class, which will take up majority of that figure. You're not talking about a lot of money to play with if you're not also talking about a trade or further money moves via current contracts. But I wouldn't mind another long and rangy receiver to fall into Atlanta's lap before the start of training camp. Personally, at this point, I don't feel confident in saying anyone on the current roster is a clear No. 2 behind London. The more receivers you bring into camp, the better your odds of finding your No. 2 once the season begins.
I am of the firm belief that you can never have too many bodies in the secondary. We all saw the issues the Falcons had last year trying to make up for the absence of Casey Hayward throughout majority of the season, and A.J. Terrell during a few weeks in the middle of 2022. If I am the Falcons I don't want a repeat of that in 2023. So, if the Falcons want to load up on secondary depth, that's good with me.
Safety seems to be in a good spot, with Jessie Bates III joining Richie Grant and Jaylinn Hawkins in the room, but could there be more additions to this position? Yep, even with the Falcons paying Bates what they are.
Cornerback is a little different in my mind, though. Terrell is there, yes, but they also brought in Jeff Okudah via a trade with Detroit and Mike Hughes off the free agency market. Both Okudah and Hughes have battles through numerous injuries throughout their careers. At this moment, we don't know what the Falcons have in them. Are they at the precipice of a reinvigorated career? No one knows yet, not when they haven't taken a single snap as a Falcon. Depth out wide and in the slot, too, is paramount for all of the reasons stated in this section. If the Falcons want to go heavy at this position for camp, I won't stop them (like I could).
Offensive line (left guard specifically)
Here's what we know about the Falcons offensive line: Majority of the 2022 group is coming back, and the Falcons grabbed not one but two offensive linemen in the draft. They also (according to Spotrac) are one of the biggest spenders in the league when it comes to their active offensive line contracts, which makes sense considering the moves they made this offseason and last. All of this said, though, I still worry about the left guard position. It's - again - up for grabs as the Falcons go into a new season.
Could the Falcons have their starting left guard already on the roster? Absolutely. Do I think it hurts to bring in another veteran to compete for the spot? No, I don't.
Matt Hennessy should be a contender for the starting role after the Falcons gave him reps at left guard last year when Elijah Wilkinson was hurt. Then, there's Matthew Bergeron, the offensive lineman the Falcons moved up in the second round to get last Friday. Though exclusively a tackle in college, the Falcons' vision for Bergeron has him moving inside to guard.
All of this to say, the Falcons have options already at left guard.
All I'm saying in response is not that I think the Falcons should add to the offensive line just for addition sake, but if the right guard becomes available, say, post June 1 or even in the weeks after 53-man roster cuts are made in August? I'm not opposed to the Falcons doing what needs to be done to continue to strengthen the offensive line if they feel any of these aforementioned options aren't cutting it at the position. It doesn't hurt to keep options open.
Join us as we take a look at the 2023 NFL draft class for the Atlanta Falcons, presented by AmFam.