Thomas Dimitroff has to be smiling today.
Critics of the Atlanta Falcons surmised the team would have a measured approach going into the 2020 offseason with limited cap space and contracts they'd be unwilling to part with.
My, how the feeling has changed in less than a week.
After saying in multiple interviews, including our own Midday show, that the salary cap constraints were overblown, the Falcons have shed lots of dead weight off the roster and acted aggressively with three shrewd moves.
The latest move, a one-year, $5 million deal to RB Todd Gurley represents a low-cost, low risk deal that allows the former Georgia Bulldog a chance to prove he has anything left in the tank. If the move does not work, it doesn't hurt the Falcons beyond this year. Adding in the $6 million dead cap investment the Falcons made in cutting Devonta Freeman, $11 million for anything that resembles the Gurley of old sounds like a steal.
The Gurley move, paired with the trade for TE Hayden Hurst and pending signing of DE Dante Fowler gives Falcons fans a reason to be intrigued by the prospects of change in 2020. None of these moves are considered "slam dunks" and do not change the pressure on Dimitroff and Head Coach Dan Quinn to produce immediate results. Instead, the team now has a clear path in the draft with some clear and defined needs.
The Falcons can go in with a clear mind to either select a defensive tackle, linebacker or cornerback with their first selection at #16. The second round selection can address whatever you don't get in the first round, along with something to contribute to the rebuild of the offensive line.
Gurley and the Falcons always represented the most perfect fit. Atlanta struggled to run the football in 2019, ranking 30th in the league in rushing yards. After leading the league in rushing touchdowns for two straight years, knee problems caused Gurley's production dropped off last season. He carried the ball almost four less times per game, and averaged 32 less yards per contest in a 2019 year that looked like a shell of his former self. Combining a motivated Gurley, with an equally motivated Offensive Coordinator in Dirk Koetter gives both men a chance to shed the "inept" moniker from their resumes.
If the Gurley move fails to catalyze the Atlanta rushing attack, and the other moves don't put the Falcons into the playoffs in 2020, we could still see change at the key Falcons administrative spots. But if these moves make the Falcons a contender, owner Arthur Blank's faith in Dimitroff and Quinn will be rewarded.
Many went into the offseason believing that Falcons would sit on the sidelines during free agency. Dimitroff hasn't wasted his last stand, and could possibly oversee his finest hour.