Unbelievably, we’re solely 5 weeks and 4 video games away from the top of the 2022 season. Atlanta’s near heading into one of the pivotal offseasons in latest franchise historical past, one the place they’ll lastly have cash to spend and an opportunity to considerably improve a roster that has primarily been treading water for 2 years.
A part of the image—and a few of that cash—issues the workforce’s personal impending free brokers. The workforce has a ton of one-year offers expiring, however what number of of these gamers will return to Atlanta? Who has been ok and essential sufficient to be a part of a re-built squad in 2023, and who will probably be in search of a brand new dwelling?
We don’t know the solutions to these questions but, however with 13 video games down, we will begin growing some guesses. At this time, let’s take a look at which gamers seem like trending to return, those that really feel like true toss-ups and must have a big effect within the last 4 weeks, and people who appear unlikely to be Falcons subsequent yr.
We’ll test again in on this after the season is over.
Trending to return again
WR Olamide Zaccheaus
The case for Zaccheaus is fairly apparent. At the same time as a reserve, he had worth on particular groups, the place he was a prepared tackler and will fill in as a returner in a pinch. Now that he’s proven he generally is a weapon, the Falcons needs to be thinking about bringing him again as their third or fourth receiver even after inevitable upgrades this offseason.
Zaccheaus is third on the workforce in targets, however he’s second in receptions, first in yardage, and tied for second in landing grabs, and has the second-best catch price of any participant with not less than 10 targets. A part of this can be a operate of Zaccheaus getting much less defensive consideration and having a significantly better rapport with Marcus Mariota than Drake London or Kyle Pitts, however on condition that he’s younger, ought to nonetheless be comparatively reasonably priced, and presents loads to this offense, he needs to be again.
FB Keith Smith
Atlanta lastly has a floor sport worthy of Smith’s abilities. The hyper-physical fullback is likely one of the league’s higher blockers on the place and is a big particular groups contributor, and I can’t see Atlanta giving that mixture up once they’re beginning to put their stamp on the league as a run-first, run-you-over assault. Smith needs to be again on a brand new deal.
P Bradley Pinion
A strong punter who’s beneath 30 years previous, Pinion is a tick beneath common when it comes to his punting numbers this season, but in addition handles kickoffs for Atlanta and has been among the many simpler gamers within the league in that regard, with the seventh-best yardage per kickoff common. It’s not arduous to think about the Falcons, who haven’t had continuity at punter since they reduce ties with Matt Bosher, getting Pinion again on a comparatively reasonably priced two or three yr deal.
RB Caleb Huntley
A no brainer. Huntley has been an amazing runner this season, routinely powering via contact and producing large performs, and he’s an unique rights free agent. That mixture of youth, expertise, and affordability means he needs to be again.
LS Liam McCullough
After a bit shakiness over the summer season and early fall, McCullough has settled in and has by all accounts and eye assessments carried out a brand new job. As a result of stability at lengthy snapper is good to have and the place isn’t a significant expense, I’d anticipate him to be again.
DL Abdullah Anderson
Together with rookie Timothy Horne, Anderson has been a nice shock as a solid-enough participant who has a handful of massive performs beneath his belt this yr. The veteran shouldn’t be counted on as greater than a reserve subsequent yr—the Falcons will get Ta’Quon Graham again and may add not less than one affect participant—however he’s performed properly sufficient to stay as a reserve and the Falcons ought to be certain that they bring about him again. Anderson can also be listed as a restricted free agent by Spotrac, which means he ought to have a reasonably affordable contract on the authentic spherical tender degree.
OL Ryan Neuzil
An unique rights free agent the workforce clearly likes, Neuzil cross-trained at middle this previous summer season and has been referred to as as much as the roster as a flexible reserve with accidents piling up. When he has performed in preseason he’s seemed rattling good—albeit in opposition to deep backups—and given his affordability and flexibility he’ll definitely be again.
CB Isaiah Oliver
I’d suppose the Falcons would attempt to get Oliver again, however in his return from damage he has not fairly been the identical participant he was in these heady few video games the place he dominated on Dean Pees’ protection in 2021. If the workforce believes that’s partly simply because he’s working his method again from a big damage—a really affordable perception—getting him again and having him lock down that nickel spot makes a ton of sense. In the event that they suppose he’s completely wholesome they usually’d like to buy an improve over what they’re getting, he’ll be searching for a brand new workforce.
LB Rashaan Evans
A lot relies on Troy Andersen’s progress and what the workforce thinks of Mykal Walker. That will be my presumptive beginning duo at inside linebacker in 2023, and Evans shouldn’t lack for suitors as a starter given his strong work in opposition to the run this season. If the Falcons aren’t offered on Walker as a long-term starter and don’t suppose Andersen is able to run with it, Evans’ familiarity with Dean Pees and expertise as a starter this yr will doubtless carry him again.
WR Damiere Byrd
The Falcons determine so as to add not less than one starting-caliber receiver, which is more likely to push one 2022 contributor off the roster totally. That’s earlier than you even add in Frank Darby and Jared Bernhardt, each of whom might need 2023 roles after having little or no to do up to now in 2022.
If the workforce prioritizes velocity—or if Marcus Mariota returns because the beginning quarterback—Byrd will doubtless get one other look. His manufacturing has been inconsistent and he couldn’t get on the sphere within the early going, however Byrd has been a very explosive playmaker at instances, cashing in a few the workforce’s longest passing performs of the season. Until the Falcons add a speedy possibility elsewhere, he’s a legit risk.
WR KhaDarel Hodge
I do suppose Hodge is extra more likely to return than Byrd. He’s had a few drops alongside the best way, however Hodge performs important particular groups snaps and is sort of good, and he’s a lightly-used however pretty dependable short-to-intermediate possibility as a receiver. The particular groups worth would possibly carry the day for him, however I don’t suppose the workforce brings again each Hodge and Byrd.
OT Kaleb McGary
I actually can’t make up my thoughts right here. McGary has been higher this season, however has he been ok to persuade the Falcons handy him a profitable long-term deal, the type he’s nearly definitely going to get from any individual as a sturdy starter and dependable run blocker at proper deal with? We’ll see if he finishes robust, however I’ll doubtless be waffling on this one all winter and spring.
OLB Lorenzo Carter
He’s nonetheless younger, fairly succesful, and has authored a few the most important performs of the yr for the Falcons on protection and particular groups. For all that, he hasn’t been as impactful on a week-to-week foundation over the previous a number of weeks, has not been a massively productive go rusher, and would probably should return as a reserve with Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone doubtless having bigger roles and the workforce probably (and rightfully) prioritizing the addition of extra expertise.
Carter might return—he’s a strong participant who has carried out good work this yr on steadiness—however I’m undecided I’m anticipating it.
CB Mike Ford
A bodily cornerback who can play security in a pinch, Ford has been one of many workforce’s core particular teamers all yr lengthy. The Falcons might search for an improve, however because the final man up at a number of positions and along with his appreciable worth for Marquice Williams, I might not be in any respect shocked to see Ford return in 2023.
OG Elijah Wilkinson
A strong starter who has battled accidents at instances this yr, Wilkinson has been a really nice shock because the workforce’s beginning left guard this season, and along with his earlier expertise at proper deal with and proper guard, he could be a top quality re-signing both as a starter or as a reserve.
The Falcons are both doubtless to offer Jalen Mayfield actual run at left guard once more, open the gates for Justin Shaffer to compete with him, or just exit and get a possible high-end starter on the place, although, so it might come down as to if Wilkinson is prepared to return as a reserve or if he can land a beginning job elsewhere.
OL Chuma Edoga
Edoga has just one begin beneath his belt, however he fared properly in it and confirmed off some positional versatility when he took over at left guard. Nonetheless younger, able to enjoying deal with, and a participant the Falcons scooped up off of waivers, Edoga’s a good wager to return if the Falcons don’t make large upgrades alongside the road.
OT Germain Ifedi
If McGary’s gone, Ifedi’s capability to fill in at proper deal with or proper guard would presumably make him a precedence re-signing, on condition that he might slot in if the draft choose the Falcons would add at proper deal with on this situation faltered or bought harm. If McGary’s again, I’d anticipate the Falcons to not less than take into account re-adding Ifedi, however they might properly need a developmental possibility as an alternative.
OG Colby Gossett
One other query mark in an extended record of them alongside the offensive line. Gossett has made three begins this yr, holding up moderately properly in a single, decently in one other, and poorly within the third, and is clearly somebody the Falcons really feel comfy (if not thrilled, essentially) to plug in at guard when they should. A lot will rely upon whether or not the workforce retailers for upgrades.
CB Rashad Fenton
Fenton was introduced in on the commerce deadline, began one week and performed poorly, and has been parked since. It’s attainable the Falcons are going to get him acclimated and provides him time down the stretch, and given Fenton’s youth they is perhaps thinking about bringing him again as a reserve in 2023. For the time being, although, I’m not betting on it.
Most likely not
RB Damien Williams
A sufferer of unhealthy luck, Williams appeared poised to enter the season with a significant position however was injured within the very first sport nearly instantly, and we haven’t seen him since. The truth that Cordarrelle Patterson remains to be rolling, Tyler Allgeier has blossomed into an all-around again, and Caleb Huntley is doing terrific work in restricted appears to be like suggests there’s most likely not quite a lot of room for Williams.
TE Anthony Firkser
From summer season TE2 hopeful to deep reserve, Firkser merely hasn’t had the affect many people envisioned on this Falcons passing assault. With Kyle Pitts right here, MyCole Pruitt and Parker Hesse enjoying properly, and Feleipe Franks and John FitzPatrick as long-term developmental choices, there doesn’t determine to be a lot room for a participant who hasn’t gotten many appears to be like even in a passing assault that would definitely use a sure-handed tight finish.
TE MyCole Pruitt
Pruitt looks like a stronger wager than Firkser, however a lot will doubtless rely upon the place the Falcons suppose FitzPatrick is in his growth and whether or not he’s able to step into a big position. Hesse is such an important cog as a blocker that he’s not going wherever, and with Franks round as a de facto (if irritating) fourth tight finish, it’ll doubtless come all the way down to Pruitt, FitzPatrick, or a brand new addition for TE3 duties in 2023. I’m penciling in FitzPatrick, although I’d welcome Pruitt again given how properly he’s performed so far.
S Erik Harris
I don’t suppose the Falcons need to hold the established order at security. They considerably surprisingly shipped off Dean Marlowe, however they’ve performed Marlowe and others forward of Harris at security at instances, and he’ll be 33 years previous heading into subsequent season. Contemplating the Falcons appear more likely to attempt to improve on Jaylinn Hawkins as a starter, probably pushing him right into a core particular groups and reserve position that he’d presumably fare higher at than Harris, I feel he’s not more likely to return even when he’s clearly a Terry Fontenot favourite.
LS Beau Brinkley
Sadly for Brinkley, he bought harm and Liam McCullough supplanted him. On condition that McCullough has carried out fairly properly and Brinkley is an older participant, I think about he’ll be in search of a brand new workforce.
DT Vincent Taylor
He was competing for a roster spot heading into the yr, and coming off a significant damage with the workforce trying to improve alongside the line of defense, I can’t think about he’ll return.
DL Matt Dickerson
The previous Chief and Titan was picked up off of waivers, however he’s been behind Horne and Anderson on the depth chart and hasn’t made a lot of an affect in his possibilities. I can’t see him coming again forward of Anderson.
ILB Nick Kwiatkoski
A core particular teamer after spending the primary few weeks of the season as an inactive, Kwiatkoski would solely be again if the Falcons didn’t like Nate Landman or Dorian Etheridge to fill that particular teams-heavy, defense-light position. I’ve to think about they—or one other younger participant—will take that on, and Kwiatkoski will probably be elsewhere.