The Atlanta Falcons feel like they are a worse team than they are. They finished in fourth place in the NFC South but had a 7-10 record which was the same as both the second and third-place teams. They had a -21 point differential which was the second-best mark in their division. Still, they have some important free agents to replace on both sides of the ball, but there is a way to not take a step back heading into 2023.
Falcons free agency preview
Positional needs: RT, QB, WR, LB, EDGE
You will be shocked to find out that Atlanta’s top positional needs also correlate with free agents they are losing that played a ton of snaps in 2022. Kaleb McGary is one of the top tackles on the market, so it is unlikely that he will re-sign with the Falcons. LB Rashaan Evans played 98.4% of defensive snaps and is set to hit the market, as is EDGE Lorenzo Carter.
Atlanta’s management has said that they are excited about the future with Desmond Ridder. That’s all well and good, but they may want to bring in some veteran insurance, Marcus Mariota lost the starting job down the stretch of the season and may have even had a falling out with the team. No matter who is under center, the Falcons must bring in some proven pass-catchers to give them more depth behind Drake London and Kyle Pitts.
Players to target
The Falcons need to protect whoever they wind up going with under center. With McGary assumed gone, they need to target Jawaan Taylor, Andrew Wylie or Mike McGlinchey to avoid taking a step back. With wide receivers, this could be addressed in the draft. They drafted London last year and, with the eighth overall pick, could take someone like Jaxon Smith-Njigba from Ohio State or Jordan Addison from USC, even though they’d be able to trade back to get them.
Replenishing an EDGE rusher is another thing they could do in the draft with the No. 8 pick. If they choose to address the need in free agency, they should look at trying to bring in Yannick Ngakoue, Samson Ebukam or Marcus Davenport. Alex Anzalone would be a big linebacker get or a guy like T.J. Edwards. For quarterback, there is a chance that you're looking at a second or third-string guy with upside. PJ Walker, Mike White or Joshua Dobbs should fit the bill.