Recaps and Predictions: Falcons Off-Season Moves
The Falcons’ offseason started off with a bang. The Falcons fired offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. The firing of Sarkisian was expected even though he had success but he never seemed to have a connection with Matt Ryan. To fix this problem, the Falcons brought in a familiar face in Dirk Koetter, who was the head coach for the Buccaneers but was fired right after the end of the season. Koetter had worked with Ryan from 2012 to 2014 in Atlanta during a season that included a trip to the NFC Championship.
Defense and Special Teams:
The firing of Manuel may have been premature because of the unfortunate injuries but clearly Dan Quinn had a different vision as he is now taking over the defensive coordinator position and hired former Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton to be his assistant. Firing Armstrong was an overdue decision because the return game for punts and kicks had never been good and he had helped make the decision to cut Stephen Roberts who went on to be a top returner for the Jets.
Draft and Free Agency:
The draft and free agency is an exciting topic since the owner, Arthur Blank, said Atlanta was going to be active this off-season. The Falcons have the 14th overall pick in the draft and should draft a defensive player. This year’s draft has great depth at the defensive line and the Falcons will most likely take a defensive tackle with their first pick. The best options for the Falcons are Christian Wilkins from Clemson and Ed Oliver out of Houston. The only way the Falcons don’t take a defensive tackle is if a top defensive back is available, such as DeAndre Baker. If this happened, they would take a defensive tackle in the second round, such as Gerald Willis from Miami or currently-injured Jeffery Simmons from Mississippi State.
In free agency, the Falcons will most likely lose Tevin Coleman because of his high price tag, as well as Vic Beasley Jr. Beasley did not produce anything this year and will not be an impactful loss.
The top priority for the Falcons is to re-sign Grady Jarrett, who is the strongest on the defensive line and gets the most pressure. The Falcons will not need to go for any big free agents but should sign a veteran offensive guard.
The dream scenario for this offseason would consist of trading Devonta Freeman to open up cap space for an offensive guard and use the money to go sign a top defensive end like Dee Ford to gain depth at that position since Brooks Reed was cut. If Freeman goes, Atlanta should do their best to re-sign Tevin Coleman and give him the money he deserves. This would fix the biggest gaps on the team and open up some cap space at the same time.