It isn’t often that a defending NFC Champion improves their roster from one season to the next. What often happens with team success is that a handful of key players leave via free agency looking to get paid the following season (and who can blame them?). The Falcons are different.
This is why the Falcons have a huge advantage to continue winning in the season following their Super Bowl showing. They also have positioned themselves on the perch of the contending window into the immediate future as well as numerous seasons to follow.
Smart contract signings and extensions have the Falcons ready to contend year in and year out while also enjoying prime production years from key players on both sides of the ball. Let’s take a closer look on the how and why:
What’s Trending: Does a new stat prove that MVP QB, Aaron Rodgers is the G.O.A.T.
Player Spotlight: How high is the ceiling for MVP LB, Von Miller, in 2017
Julio Jones? Under contract.
Matt Ryan? Under contract.
Devonta Freeman? Soon to be under contract?
The Falcons sprinkle in a young tight end duo of Austin Hooper and Eric Saubert playing close to the minimum. Stretch the field, speed threat Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu, the possession receiver whose size creates mismatches in the middle of the field, are both signed to reasonable contracts.
Don’t forget the young running back duo behind Freeman in Brian Hill and Tevin Coleman. A top scoring offensive team that can smell blood in the water to create a scoring frenzy when asked.
On defense, a young, high motor defensive line consisting of Grady Jarrett, Vic Beasley, and new addition Takk McKinley are all under contract long-term and chomping at the bit.
Speedy, hard-hitting second level of defense in Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, DeVondre Campbell, and new addition Duke Riley are all young and signed inexpensively. The backend of the defense anchored by Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant, are getting paid handsomely, but they are a top coverage defensive back tandem.
Falcons’ fans are giddy in dreaming of the next step for this collection of defensive talent.
The Alex Mack signing from a year ago, anchored the offensive line and gave Ryan time to dissect opposing defenses.
Current free agent signings of Dontari Poe and Jack Crawford should improve the defensive pressure. It will only benefit the core already in place on the defensive side of the ball.
Only Dwight Freeney has been removed from the current Falcon defensive equation, and his return is still a possibility heading into training camp. Patrick DiMarco did also depart, but we may see Brian Hill slide into a fullback position when asked. This will be something to monitor as the season progresses.
There aren’t many, if any, previous defending conference champs that have worked the trifecta of draft, salary cap, and free agent departures as well as the Falcons have under general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn. To hit on players consistently in the draft is hard enough, but to also be fortunate enough for the newly drafted players to perform immediately on cheap rookie deals is a godsend.
Training camp begins at the end of July. The Falcons simply need to sharpen their claws to get ready for their NFC competition. They head into the 2017 season with one of the deepest rosters.
First things first, win the division and the rest will fall into place. The Falcons must strike now while they have the benefit of key players at peak performance levels, at prime ages.
Let’s enjoy a “flock party,” Falcons’ fans; the kind of party that never ends!