Falcons’ early free agency activity is why they didn’t trade for Lamar Jackson
The Atlanta Falcons wisely chose to improve their team methodically rather than hastily trade Lamar Jackson and try to microwave that thing on the fly.
Let me tell you about the most positive 24 hours Atlanta Falcons fans have had in over six years.
For the first time God knows how long, The Dirty Birds had some money to spend in free agency. While the previous system did a good job of drafting and developing homegrown talent, it paid a premium for quality players, Dallas Cowboys style, and it didn’t work out very well. After taking it on the chin for at least a year or more financially, Terry Fontenot has cooked completely in free agency.
The Falcons’ general manager traded Jono Smith from the New England Patriots to set the tone for what would be a great Monday. Acquiring star safety Jesse Bates III to come from the Cincinnati Bengals is the best free agent move the Falcons have made since signing Alex Mack. They didn’t stop there and managed to extend All-World guard Chris Lindstrom as well.
I think this is safe to do now that the hawks wild day.
IN: TE Jonnu Smith, S Jessie Bates III, DT David Onyemata, LB Kaden Elliss
Back (or extended): RG Chris Lindstrom, FB Keith Smith, P Bradley Pinion
Exit: Pick #245 in the seventh round of ’23
Next: OT? OG? WR? DE/EDGE? CB? QB?
— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) March 14, 2023
As if the greatest Monday since the Georgia Dome closed on good terms wasn’t enough, Fontenot isn’t over. He chose to sign high-profile backup in fame Taylor Hynecke of the Washington Chiefs from the Atlanta area on Tuesday morning. The former Collins Hill star and Old Dominion legend will likely train next, but will be competing with Desmond Reader for now.
All of these above transactions and much more would not have been possible if Fontenot had taken the short and traded for Lamar Jackson. I don’t know how good this team will be next year, but 11-6 or 10-7 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Considering how awful the NFC South is across the board, Atlanta could win their first title since Kyle Shanahan blew them away.
Dare I say it, Falcons give me hope and for whatever reason I buy all of this.
NFL rumours: The Atlanta Falcons show why they didn’t trade Lamar Jackson
Let’s be real. I haven’t been as excited about a defensive back in Atlanta since the Falcons drafted DeAngelo Hall. I had a sneaking suspicion that the Bengals would do what they’re doing and get cheap, letting Bates go for his money. He reunites with his former high school coach Steve Jackson, as well as top clients David Mulugeta on the Falcons like AJ Terrell and Kyle Pitts.
Signing David Onyemata and Kaden Elliss was all about getting more of Ryan Nielsen’s youth in the building. It’s not easy to pick players from the team you hate the most in the world, but Fontenot has been fine for us, and Nielsen is showing promise. Signing Onyemata will do wonders in letting the rest of the NFL world fully understand just how great Grady Jarrett is.
I mean, we can go further down the line. Every move the Falcons have made this season has been calculated and methodical, which is all I could hope for. They put real thought into their off-season plan, and I’m proud of them. Whether it’s a changing culture like the Bates or bringing back some beef in running linebacker Keith Smith’s game, the pieces come together.
Not to say The Dirty Birds are going worse than the 1991 Atlanta Braves, but they’re my bet they’re the 2022 Jacksonville Jaguars and 2021 Bengals before that. Those were bad teams who quickly improved by being crushed in NFL free agency and making smart draft picks in hopes of building a winning team around an attack-minded head coach and young quarterback.
Even re-signing Bradley Bennion to the contract is a solid move, because you can never put a price on continuity on special teams. You can win and lose games in this section. This is how the Falcons can snap the deficit of several one-point defeats they suffered a season ago. Presenting perhaps your most talented player and generally good guy in Lindstrom is pure brilliance.
For now, I want to talk about the two additions that were made to improve the offense, first with Smith and then with Heinicke. Although Smith didn’t make it in New England, the Patriots don’t know what they’re doing offensively, Coach Arthur Smith certainly does. He specialized in coaching tight ends like Smith before becoming the offensive coordinator at Nashville. I love this.
And for Heinicke, it’s too Atlanta of him to grow up in the metroplex and not root for the Falcons as a young man. why him? Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers were better as kids. However, he plays with an edge that I’ve always loved. I wouldn’t have my idol Ryan Fitzpatrick play for the Falcons, but I could have a colleague of mine do similar things for Heinicke.
In general, just be happy for us, dude. This has been the ultimate Falcons football stretch of my life. The good news is, I honestly feel like we’re out of our perpetual quagmire and we’re going to turn some heads this fall. The best part is they still have the capital draft, including the #8 pick. So just draft one of my dogs in either Galen Carter or Nolan Smith in the top 10 and I’ll be happy.
In the end, the only other things the Falcons could do in free agency to make this a complete no-go is re-sign right tackle Kaleb McGary and bring in a veteran wide receiver to help bring in Drake London. Everyone is going to count us out, but Atlanta thrives kind of on it. Always, always will. Just wait for this soccer team to be good again. Oh, we’d be terrible to deal with.
I’m waiting for this to crash and burn and the blade to fall off the top, but it was fun.