Since trading longtime quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, the Atlanta Falcons have decided to locate their next franchise signalman for the first time in 14 years.
Atlanta’s signing of former first-round QB Marcus Mariota and drafting Desmond Ridder from Cincinnati in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft suggest the Falcons will mend the wound left by Ryan’s absence in 2022, but won’t. won’t cure it completely. It’s a shrewd and profitable strategy for the capped Falcons, especially with a well-regarded pitching crop possibly available in the 2023 draft.
But don’t expect Atlanta to be distracted this season by the possibility of what might happen in the future, even to the point of not trying to win as many games in 2022 to secure a higher pick. No, the Falcons are trying to win now.
“It’s a waste of my time and my time if you want to talk about 23,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith told The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz in a recent interview. “It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard – of a team trying not to win football games. If you don’t, there will be consequences. OK, you’re top of the line. draft – I have But you’re in a very transactional phase of the National Football League right now Trades in the draft Trades for the quarterbacks It’s a different landscape than when Jimmy Johnson took over the Dallas Cowboys in 1989. It was a pre-free agency. The famous Herschel Walker trade. They blew it up and went 1-15, and… it was a long rebuild. It’s not the same NFL as Back then, people would have given their first born before giving People are still drifting away from the old narratives, and it’s comical.
“Any good team knows how to rebuild itself every year.”
The Falcons try to be one of those good teams. In addition to replacing Ryan with Mariota and Ridder this offseason, Atlanta re-signed Cordarrelle Patterson, who does it all, added Damien Williams to its backfield, signed reserve receivers Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge and Auden Tate, traded for Brian Edwards. and drafted Drake London with their first pick to partner star tight end Kyle Pitts. Those moves might not scream “Super Bowl LVII, here we come,” but they look like an attempt at a fly-by-night rebuild, and the Falcons are trying to improve on Smith’s first season as head coach, a 7-10 campaign that analytical mind has seen. as outperformance.
For those folks sure to nullify the Falcons’ ability to win games in 2022, Smith doesn’t have time for their Games.
“There are a lot of people who are invested in and love team building strategies,” Smith told Schultz. “They’re engaged and they’re playing pretend GMs online. They claim to know the salary cap, and they claim to know what the locker room is like, and they claim to know what it’s like to come up with a game plan, and they claim to know about life in the NFL. But they have no idea.”
The Falcons currently rank last of the NFL’s 32 teams in maximum spend this season ($131.4 million), although that’s largely due to Atlanta ranking first in terms of of dead money ($63 million), with much of it related to Ryan’s deceased legends. and Julio Jones. That number and its effect on Atlanta’s spending habits reflect the Falcons’ attempt to emerge from the Thomas Dimitroff era and fully embrace the future of Smith and Terry Fontenot.
“It’s not a complete teardown,” Fontenot told NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe after the draft. “We still have essentials here that we want to keep. We also know we have a lot of work to do. We’re ready to get the job done and bring in the right guys.”