With most of the big moves of the NFL Free Agency period behind us, the NFC South has been one of the most active if not the most active division in the NFL. Tom Brady signing a two-year deal obviously headlines the moves made in the division, but we also saw Teddy Bridgewater become the guy in Carolina as the Panthers gave permission to former MVP Cam Newton to seek a trade, and not only did the New Orleans Saints re-sign Drew Brees to a 2-year $50 million dollar deal they also reunited with safety Malcolm Jenkins and signed former 49ers receiver Emmanuel Sanders. With all these moves happening within the Falcons division the Falcons really had no choice but to make some moves and as Willy P said to kick off hour two “Keep up with the Jones.”
The Falcons had been hearing from analysts, insiders, fans and just from common NFL fans from all over the world that the Falcons won’t be able to make any moves this offseason during free agency because we are in so called “Cap Hell.” Everyone thought we would be stuck with what we got, and would just have to pray that we hit on all of our picks in the draft. However, the Falcons made the necessary moves in cutting Desmond Trufant, Devonta Freeman, and letting Austin Hooper walk and not overpaying him. With those essential moves they were able to acquire Dante Fowler Jr., who had a career high 11.5 sacks last year with the Los Angeles Rams, Todd Gurley who even though is not the same player he once was is still a twenty-five year old running back that will be very motivated after seeing his role steadily diminished with the Rams, and he will no doubt want to impress his hometown UGA fans as a former Georgia Bulldog. The Falcons also acquired Hayden Hurst in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens. Hurst is a young tight end who could arguably be just as effective if not more effective in Atlanta as Austin Hooper was if he gets the same opportunity Hooper did which he will with Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley still taking up a lot of attention from defenses.
With all that being said, a lot of praise has to be sent to General Manager Thomas Dimitroff and Head Coach Dann Quinn. Not only did they make the necessary moves to improve the team, but they also made the necessary moves to keep pace with an NFC South Division that, as mentioned earlier, has gotten better. Also, they kept themselves relevant in the national conversation with the big splash signings of Fowler and Gurley, who they were able to get for a bargain deal. All of the moves the Falcons have made in the offseason so far have not only made Falcons fans happy, but could have possibly set themselves up nicely for the future. Again Todd Gurley is only twenty-five and with Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and now Hayden Hurst in the offense alongside him he won’t have to be the workhorse he was in Los Angeles, and as far Dante Fowler Jr., also only twenty-five years old, he is coming off of his best season and seems to be trending in the right direction. If both of these moves work out for the Falcons, they have solidified two major positions for the future, and will be competitive for the next few years to come.
Willy P made an excellent point about these moves being necessary for the Falcons saying “ All the other teams in this division made significant moves. Think about if the Falcons did not make any, and they were sat basically with the constrained cap and did not have the ability to really keep up with Jones'”. If that was to happen while you were in a division with two teams now having hall of fame quarterbacks, and still making moves to get better falcons fans would be irate. However, the Falcons made all the necessary moves to keep up with the Joneses, make them a competitive team this year, and even set themselves up nicely for the future.
This offseason for the Falcons has been a win for everybody involved in the organization. Thomas Dimitroff and Dann Quinn, who are on their last chance, have made a competitive team even before the draft. President Rich Mckay and owner Arthur Blank have possibly set themselves up nicely for the future, and can do that even more in the upcoming draft. Finally, the players who were already on the team are seeing the front office make big moves, and bring in big time players, and you know that has to excite them. However, the Falcons still have one big test to pass and that is the NFL Draft, but with the moves they have made so far they can now address a lot of needs and hopefully make another Super Bowl run.