After another failed season, there have been changes made to the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff. More changes and moves are set to come, with NFL Free Agency set to begin soon. These are 10 free agents the Falcons should be targeting on the offensive side of the ball.Falcons Offensive Targets in NFL Free Agency
Roderick Johnson, Right Tackle
Roderick Johnson only played 245 snaps last year and was the backup right tackle behind Tytus Howard in Houston. He finished with a grade of 64.5 from PFF. The current RT for the Falcons is Kaleb McGary. They need to bring in some competition, like Johnson, to give McGary a push or to get him out the way. His grade in 2020 was 64.1. The Falcons traded back into the first round in 2019 to select McGary with the 31st overall pick. He just hasn’t shown that first-rounder type of skill set in Atlanta yet.
Brett Jones, Center
We all know the Falcons are most likely moving on from Alex Mack. They drafted Matt Hennessy last year in the third round, but he didn’t really pan out either. Was it only his rookie season? Yes, but his blocking was absolutely atrocious. Adnan Ikic from the Falcholic said “I can’t sugarcoat how bad Hennessy’s pass blocking was this season. San Francisco’s Hroniss Grasu was the only center who played 200+ snaps who had a lower pass blocking grade than Atlanta’s third-round draft selection.”
Brett Jones only played 138 snaps in 2020 with the Minnesota Vikings. He was graded at 77.6 by PFF. That is a better grade than Mack and Hennessy had in 2020. The low snap count can be concerning and makes one question how good Jones really is. But, If he plays better than Hennessy, then full speed ahead with Jones!
Zach Pascal, Wide Receiver
Zach Pascal is coming off the best year of his career, and he has a high upside. If he joins Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, the sky is the limit for this young man’s potential and the Atlanta offense. New head coach Arthur Smith has also seen Pascal plenty, after coaching in the AFC South.
Austin Reiter, Center
Reiter was clearly one of the best players on the Chiefs offensive line in 2020. His PFF grade was 70.9 over 687 snaps. He could potentially be the long-term solution for the Falcons at the center position. Is 70.9 an amazing grade? No, not at all, but the Falcons get to plug in a very solid center.
Gus Edwards, Running Back
The Falcons haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher since 2016, when Devonta Freeman rushed for 1,079 yards. Ever since then, the Falcons just haven’t had much success rushing the football. Who could be a great fit? Gus Edwards, who rushed for over 700 yards the past two seasons, while his carries have been under 150 attempts. A lot of his success could be from the system in Baltimore. However, it’s hard not to love his running style. He could be a perfect fit for this Falcons offense, with his running style and catching ability.
Jonnu Smith, Tight End
Jonnu Smith is the ideal person to take over the duties at the TE position for the Falcons in the future. Also, having Smith would give the Falcons an opportunity to continue to stretch the field with a two-tight end system. This would also give Smith the opportunity to continue to play under Arthur Smith. While Arthur Smith was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee in 2019 and 2020, Jonnu Smith had his two best seasons. In 2020, he finished with eight touchdowns. Imagine what his numbers would be like in a pass-first system like the Falcons.
Tim Patrick, Wide Receiver
Tim Patrick had a solid 2020 season (51 rec/786 yards/ 4 TDs). With Julio Jones moving up in age, this could be the time for the Falcons to grab another big receiver to play on the outside. Jones and Patrick on the outside would be a matchup nightmare, at 6-3 and 6-4, respectively. Then, you have Calvin Ridley in the slot, and we know how great his route running is! Clearly, one of the best in the NFL. Patrick would be a huge boost to this receiving corps and make the Falcons among the best passing attacks in the NFL.
Austin Blythe, Center
Blythe would be a HUGE edition to the offensive line in Atlanta. Last year, the Los Angeles Rams were ranked as the third-best offensive line. Austin Blythe was the guy leading that line. The Falcons need a guy with leadership qualities and knows the game very well to be their new center. Blythe could potentially be a little expensive, but when it comes to the offensive line, sometimes you just have to pay the piper.
Marlon Mack, Running Back
When Marlon Mack is healthy, he’s an x-factor on the field. The Colts won’t be re-signing him, after the emergence of Jonathan Taylor. This could be perfect target for the Falcons, since Mack is coming off an ACL tear. Another thing that should intrigue the Falcons is that Mack can do it all — blocking, has vision on the ground and he can be a key part of the receiving game. Mack would take this RB room from D- to a B- alone. We’ve all seen his effectiveness in 2018 and 2019 before his injury. Will he be the same in 2021? Only time will tell. But, this is a person the Falcons shouldn’t mind paying to be the starting running back.
Joe Thuney, Guard
Joe Thuney is the top guy the Falcons should have their eyes on in NFL Free Agency. We all saw the struggles with the offensive line in 2020, and James Carpenter was a big part of it, along with Matt Hennessy. Thuney is also a versatile lineman that’s capable of sliding in at multiple position. He’s great blocking against the pass and the run. And as an executive in the NFL said, “Someone is going to pay, and maybe overpay him.” That might as well be the Falcons. Remember, I said before when it comes to the offensive line, sometimes you just have to pay the piper.