The Atlanta Falcons are entering a difficult and tricky offseason. Several decisions loom large following their fourth straight campaign that failed to result in a postseason berth. In some ways, 2021 represented a step forward. New head coach Arthur Smith arguably received maximum effort and success out of an undermanned roster that is largely devoid of talent on both sides of the ball. Smith's Falcons wrapped up the season with a semi-respectable 7-10 record, which is three wins greater than they experienced in 2020. General manager Terry Fontenot now has a full year of experience under his belt and has a better feel for the strengths and weaknesses of his roster. As he prepares to enter a crucial draft and free agency period, Fontenot's decision-making process regarding the quarterback position takes a front-row seat. The soon-to-be-37-year-old Matt Ryan is still playing at a starting-caliber level, but questions regarding Atlanta's long-term future at the quarterback position are rather straightforward. Ryan isn't going to be around forever and Fontenot, Smith, and the Falcons must start pondering life in a post-Ryan world. Ryan's sizable cap hit makes him a difficult target in any metaphorical trade discussions, and as a result, he'll likely serve as Atlanta's signal-caller for the 15th consecutive season in 2022. Although Ryan should rightfully remain in Atlanta, Fontenot should seriously consider drafting a quarterback in the middle rounds. How the Falcons answered the quarterback question a year ago will forever be remembered, critiqued, and analyzed. Fontenot passed up on the opportunity to select Justin Fields or Mac Jones with the fourth overall selection, instead opting for talented tight end Kyle Pitts. The decision will continue to rage debates, but there's no denying that Pitts was extremely productive as a rookie pass-catcher. Should Fields and Jones continue developing into franchise quarterbacks with their respective teams, this debate isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Alas, what's done is done and Fontenot must shift focus to the offseason ahead. If the Falcons decide to draft a quarterback, it's difficult to envision them doing so with their first-round (No. 8 overall) selection. If Fontenot passed up the opportunity to draft a first-round signal-caller in a much stronger QB class a year ago, it's tough to fathom him falling in love with one of this year's quarterbacks in a perceived weaker class. Somewhere between rounds 2-4 may represent better value as the Falcons attempt to land Ryan's heir apparent without using a premium first-round pick on a player that will sit on the bench in 2022. Nevada's Carson Strong would qualify as an excellent mid-round consolation prize as a quarterback that possesses a strong arm and is largely viewed as more of a traditional pocket passer, which doesn't veer too far away from Ryan's skill set. Should Liberty's Malik Willis or North Carolina's Sam Howell still find themselves on the board in rounds two or three, the Falcons may consider traveling down that path as well. Owner Arthur Blank is hungry to return his Falcons to prominence. The Falcons will likely move forward with Ryan under center but should start considering their future before it's too late.
- May 27, 2022
- May 27, 2022