Matt Bosher Jersey

After years of shaky performance, the Falcons’ special teams fared quite well in 2018. Matt Bosher had a good year, Matt Bryant and Giorgio Tavecchio were terrific, and coverage improved significantly over an awful 2017. In the end, that wasn’t enough to save Keith Armstrong’s job, especially after yet another year of poor performances in the return game.

That leaves special teams as unsettled as it has been in many, many years. No longer is Armstrong’s philosophy guiding things with new coach Ben Kotwica taking over as special teams coordinator, which means things we’ve taken for granted over the years could change suddenly. Kotwica is a virtual lock to add one or two of his guys if he can, meaning longtime special teamers like Kemal Ishmael may or may not return. Then there’s the situation at kicker, where Matt Bryant is as dependable as ever but faces a legitimate threat to his job for the first time in recent memory from Giorgio Tavecchio.

How will things shake out? Let’s look.

The team has to weigh whether they want to bring back their own free agents, first and foremost. Justin Bethel was just as good as you’d expect him to be, given his outsized reputation, but he’s a noted disaster in coverage and may not be back just to contribute on teams. Kemal Ishmael is a more reliable defender who can play linebacker or safety and has been a core contributor on teams since he arrived as a seventh round pick way back in 2013, but he’s not a lock to return either.

If the Falcons are planning to replace them, keep an eye on guys Kotwica has recently coached. Linebacker Zach Vigil is an unrestricted free agent and spent two seasons working with Kotwica in Washington, leading all players in special teams snaps in 2017 and grading out as Pro Football Focus’s fourth-best tackler on the team that season. The Falcons could very well elect to replace Ishmael (or somebody like Bruce Carter, if they’re not drafting a linebacker) with Vigil, who has shown his reliability and would be very comfortable with what Kotwica will want to do.

Ricardo Allen Jersey

One of the two players that were signed by the Atlanta Falcons is former Kansas City Chiefs practice squad member, Chris Cooper. The Atlanta Falcons and Cooper agreed to a two year deal Friday. This signing helps the Falcons add depth to a position that, last season, saw stars Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen fall to injuries.

The other player the Falcons signed is former Los Angeles Rams safety, Afolabi Laguda. Laguda played at Colorado University, like Falcons rising star, Isaiah Oliver. He, like Cooper, will add depth to a position that needs depth.

The Falcons adding depth throughout the offensive line and defense is important given the amount of key injuries the Falcons had to deal with last season. Both players mentioned had relatively decent collegiate careers at their respective colleges. They are both young guys who are hungry to prove that they belong in the NFL after given very little opportunity to prove themselves by their former teams. Both guys will do just fine with the Falcons and are great signings.

With the Falcons adding depth at certain positions, it opens up more draft opportunities. The Falcons can go after who they want without having to worry about whether a position on the roster is lacking in depth. The Falcons added more depth along the defensive line this week by adding former Falcon and Super Bowl champion, Adrian Clayborn and former Saints DL Tyeler Davison.

The Falcons signings this off-season may not be ‘sexy’, but they are important signings to make sure that, if more key players drop this upcoming season like last season, there will be capable players ready to fill in and help the Falcons.

Ryan Schraeder Jersey

The Atlanta Falcons have taken steps towards correcting their offensive line problems. First, they re-signed offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo to a three-year deal. Then, they added three new guards in free agency with projected starters James Carpenter and Jamon Brown plus backup Adam Gettis.

None of that will matter much if the team’s situation at right tackle does not improve. Their former starter Ryan Schraeder is on his way out on June 1 and the team desperately needs to find an upgrade at the position. Sambrailo may or may not be it. For what it’s worth, owner Arthur Blank says he does not think the unit is complete yet and expects it to be a focus in the draft, per the team website.

“This is my 19th year as an owner and one of the things I’ve learned is that Matt (Ryan) plays much better vertically than horizontally. . . I don’t think we’re complete in terms of the offensive line. I think it’ll be an area of great scrutiny and activity during the draft.”

Ryan was sacked 42 times last year, with many of them coming from the right side of the line. In theory, Brown will plug the right guard spot better than those that tried and failed in 2018. Right tackle is still the key question mark, though.

The Falcons are expected to use one of their early-round picks on an offensive tackle prospect that could help. Alabama’s Jonah Williams, Washington State’s Andre Dillard, Washington’s Kaleb McGary and Florida’s Jawaan Taylor are the top names. Atlanta hosted Taylor for a workout Thursday.

Andy Levitre Jersey

With the start of the offseason program set to start April 15, Falcons coach Dan Quinn is starting to feel re-energized.

He’s moving on from last season, which saw the Falcons go from Super Bowl contenders to 7-9 draft-spot chasers after eight players who started the season opener missed 80 games because of injury.

Quinn is watching the injury reports closely, meeting with his revamped staff and devising plans that he hopes will lead to a quick turnaround in 2019.

With the organized team activities set to start on May 20, the meetings have included five things they are focusing on for the 2019 season.

The coaches are having twice-a-week game-management meetings. They are also plotting new ways to use Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley, securing the interior of the passing pocket for quarterback Matt Ryan, tweaking the rushing attack and retooling the secondary.

Jake Matthews Jersey

The Atlanta Falcons were able to add guards Jamon Brown and James Carpenter to beef up the offensive lines. This team suffered devastating injuries through the 2018 season and fans became upset they did not fill those needs day one of the off-season. In recent weeks, the Falcons have added several important depth pieces on defense that will give them plenty of options for the 2019 NFL Draft. Dan Quinn likes to rotate his defensive line so having depth along the DL is an important part of his defensive scheme.

Adrian Clayborn is one of those important depth pieces for the Falcons. They were able to sign him on a cheap $2 million deal for one season. Clayborn will be a nice rotational piece for the defensive line and is a veteran presence, which will help Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley.

The Falcons were also able to add a young depth piece on the defensive line as well with DE Chris Odom. Odom recently played in the AAF for the Salt Lake Stallions. He was with the Falcons in 2017 as an un-drafted free agent and was cut during the final roster decisions, the Packers signed him for the 2017 season.

One of the best depth signings they had was DT Tyeler Davison. He was with the Saints for the last four seasons and is going to be a huge rotational piece for the Falcons defensive line. They were able to sing him on a one year deal and is only 26 years old.

With the Falcons adding depth to their DL in free agency they should focus on offensive tackle in the first round of the NFL Draft. However, in recent years they have proved they are not afraid of going best player available. Defensive tackle was the biggest need for the team last off-season and they ended up going selecting WR Calvin Ridley. In 2016 the Falcons biggest need was linebacker and they ended up selecting SS Keanu Neal. Ridley and Keanu have been great picks for the Falcons.

This is their draft philosophy and they are going to continue this for the 2019 NFL Draft. Right now it is looking like offensive tackle is the team’s biggest need. Do not be surprised if the Falcons end up selecting a player higher on their board that is not the biggest need.

Desmond Trufant Jersey

We have spent a lot of time talking about who the Atlanta Falcons should draft in the first couple of rounds, however, not much has been made about what to do in the third round. The Falcons can and should pick up an important depth piece and potential starter with their third round selection.

The Atlanta Falcons will need to take a CB at some point in the 2019 NFL draft. They released Robert Alford in the off-season and let Brain Poole hit free agency. The Falcons are getting back starting safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen but both had season ending injuries early in 2018. Alford signed with the Cardinals and Poole signed with the Jets.

Alford was a reliable corner, stepped up when he needed to, and one of the reasons the Falcons were able to go on their 2016 postseason run. Unfortunately for Alford, he regressed in 2018 and had the worst season of his career. Alford played opposite Desmond Trufant for many seasons but given his regression and cap hit; it was an easy decision for the Falcons to release him.

Brian Poole was solid in his nickel role for the Falcons. Poole ended up going undrafted in 2016 and proved he is a capable nickel corner in the NFL. Poole had his ups and down during the 2018 season. At first it was ugly, allowing defenders to get behind him and missing tackles.

In the second half of the season Poole played much better and looked like his 2016-2017 self. Not sure exactly why the Falcons let Poole go, however a nickel corner is one of the easier secondary positions to replace.

The current corners on the roster are Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Ryan Neal, and Taveze Calhoun. For an early prediction Trufant, Oliver, and Wreh-Wilson are going to be on the 53-man roster. Trufant and Oliver will be the two starters and Wreh-Wilson will be on special teams and provide a depth piece at corner. Outside of those three corner is looking thin so they need to find a nickel corner to replace Brian Poole and find another depth piece at corner that can play on the outside.

Mohamed Sanu Jersey

The Atlanta Falcons have been busy in the off-season trimming the roster of players with a high cap hit. The Arizona Cardinals, on the other hand, are familiar with their releases as they have signed two released Falcons during the 2019 off-season in Robert Alford and Brooks Reed.

With only $4.9 in cap space, per Over The Cap, the Falcons have already cut offensive tackle Ryan Schraeder to afford their ’19 draft class, but they will need to do more to pay for extensions to Julio Jones, Deion Jones, and Keanu Neal. Cue receiver Mohamed Sanu who is now more expendable than ever after you consider his $7.65 million cap hit, and the recent drafting of Calvin Ridley.

For the Cardinals, acquiring the 29-year-old Sanu projects as an upgrade to their wide receiver corps. He can work both the inside and outside of the field and has produced in multiple different NFL offenses. As a second or third option for the Bengals and Falcons, Sanu has tallied at least 650+ yards and four touchdowns four times through his career, three of those in the past three seasons.

While Sanu isn’t and shouldn’t be looked at as a top option in an NFL offense, he can help open up the Cardinals offense. His smooth route running and consistent play would be a welcome addition to a team that has had to trot out Chad Williams and J.J. Nelson on the outside in recent years.

Due to the nature of the Falcons limited cap space and a stable of talent at wide receiver, acquiring Sanu wouldn’t be too expensive for the Cardinals. The asking price should be in the range of a mid-round pick in this or next year’s draft. His cap hit if traded would be $6 million in ’19, and $7.9 million in ’20, per Over The Cap.

De’Vondre Campbell Jersey

It’s hard to believe, but we’re entering the contract years of the Atlanta Falcons’ illustrious 2016 draft class.

The fiery rookie group who helped propel the team to an NFC Championship will all need new contracts here soon, with only safety Keanu Neal locked in for 2020 on the fifth-year option.

The team has had preliminary talks with elite linebacker Deion Jones on a new contract, but what about De’Vondre Campbell?

The team’s strongside linebacker spoke with the St. Paul Pioneer Press about his pending contract season.
Campbell is arguably the most underrated and under-appreciated member of the Falcons defense (if not the team). He’s as stout in coverage as you’d hope, and he plays the run better than most at the position.

He also had to assume the veteran’s role in the linebacking core last season when Debo went down to keep that unit afloat. You just don’t find players like Campbell in the fourth round every day; he’s been an absolute steal for the team and, in an ideal world, would get handsomely paid to play for the Falcons for years to come.

Whether the team can afford to keep him at the price he deserves will be another story. Jones, Neal and Austin Hooper will all need new contracts in the immediate future, and the team still needs to get Grady Jarrett’s deal done and extend Julio Jones.

Vic Beasley, Matt Bosher and Jack Crawford will also be up for discussion as free agents in March 2020. Truth be told, it’s not going to be possible to keep all of these names around.

Campbell will no doubt be seeking an uptick in his play to be at his best in a year when he’s playing for his second contract; the better he is, the harder it will be for the Falcons to say goodbye. He deserves to be paid among the best strongside linebackers in the league, though it’ll just be a waiting game to see if the Falcons will be able to meet that.

We’re excited to see how Campbell does this year, though we’re aware this might be his last in a Falcons uniform should his potential deal get out of the team’s reach. He’s earned the right to create that kind of situation.

Brian Poole Jersey

Free agency hasn’t even been official for 24 hours. Yet, the New York Jets have been making moves since legal tampering began on Monday, and they are continuing the momentum with cornerback Brian Poole.
They have done a great job so far signing players like C.J. Mosley, Jamison Crowder, and Le’Veon Bell. But what about the defense. Yes, defensive end Henry Anderson is returning to the Jets, but who’s replacing Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne?

Skrine, who has recently signed with the Chicago Bears, hasn’t been an ideal cornerback. Although Claiborne hasn’t signed any contracts, it is safe to assume he won’t be returning to the Jets. The Jets need a corner like Poole, who is conditioned and ready to put up numbers.

Poole played football with Jets safety, Marcus Maye, at the University of Florida. They trust each other, and already have chemistry, which would make for a great transition. Poole was undrafted and signed by the Falcons in 2016.

His first season, Poole had 59 tackles, one sack, and one interception. In 2017, he had 63 tackles, one sack, and no interceptions. Last season was by far his best NFL season yet.
In 2018, Poole had 74 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions. Year after year he showed signs of improvement, and with the right team and coaching staff, he could be what the Jets need in a cornerback.

Ironically, last year the Jets worked out Derrick Coleman, a former Falcons fullback. Although Andre Roberts has decided to not return to the Jets and recently signed with the Buffalo Bills, before the Jets, he played for the Falcons. Not to mention, he was the No. 3 punt returner in the league.

Poole is the most recent free agent to show interest in the Jets. The team hasn’t met with any other slot cornerbacks which makes Poole a serious contender.

Grady Jarrett Jersey

ATLANTA — Falcons Defensive Tackle Grady Jarrett is Atlanta born and bred. The Conyers native tied the Super Bowl sack record in 2016 and is currently in negotiations for a huge contract extension. While most are focused on his future big payday, Jarrett wants to shift the focus to his big heart.

The 25-year-old Jarrett was nominated by the Falcons for the prestigious Walter Payton “Man of the Year” award for the 2018 season. Although he did not win (the overall winner was Philadelphia Eagles Defensive End Chris Long), Jarrett was awarded a $50,000 donation check to the programs of his choosing as team representative.
Jarrett appeared on DJ Greg Street’s radio show at V103 to surprise the DJ and close friend with a $25,000 donation to his “WENEED2READ” program. The other $25,000 went to Y-Sportz Camps, a program to provide resources to youth athletic camps.
Jarrett, who starred on both sides of the ball at Rockdale County High School, spoke on the importance of providing both athletic and academic resources to students who may not have as much.

“These programs help me not only connect on the athletic side, but also in the classroom, as far as developing leadership programs and be a resource for the kids,” Jarrett explained.

Jarrett also talked about establishing mentors and support, acknowledging his relationship with Greg Street as a crucial one for his role in the community.

“(Greg) was one of my very first big supporters after my first year in the league,” Jarrett said. “I really appreciate the love he showed me and my camps early on.”

Jarrett feels honored to be chosen as the Falcons representative as Man of The Year, but he doesn’t want the awards to outshine the work.

“It would be nice to be named Man of the Year for the NFL,” Jarrett admitted. “But that’s still a by-product of me just trying to use my platform to do what I can to help other people.”