The Atlanta Falcons did not make a lot of noise this offseason.
During every NFL offseason, there are teams that seem to be hyperactive. This can be seen in either free agency moves, trades or even draft selections. Often with this activity comes a lot of hype regarding the team's potential in the upcoming season. Conversely, there are often teams that seem anemic and make very few personnel moves. Often, this is followed by a growth of concern among the team's fan base. With that in mind, do Atlanta Falcons' fans have cause to be worried? The simple answer: Nope.
With the free agency departures of Dontari Poe and Adrian Clayborn, initially, it seemed the Falcons' offseason was not going well. Despite drafting defensive tackle Deadrin Senat being a step forward, it seemed like the team had already taken two steps back. The prevailing perception is that the team's defensive line and pass rush game is one of its weaker links. With the departures of Poe and Clayborn, there is rightfully some cause for concern. But a closer analysis of some of the team's offseason moves should quickly allay any cause for worries.
What were some key moves the Falcons did make this offseason?
Three of these moves did not even involve any changes to personnel. First and foremost, the extension of Matt Ryan to a five-year, $150 million dollar contract addressed the elephant in the room. In April, the Falcons picked up the fifth-year option of defensive player Vic Beasley's rookie contract. With those matters settled, the Falcons should be able to easily address other concerns, such as the re-negotiation of Julio Jones' contract. Finally, the announcement that Beasley (a natural pass rusher) would move back to defensive end full time should generate a lot of excitement among coaches and fans.
This leaves the final move to consider, which actually was a key personnel change. The drafting of rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley might actually turn out to be one of the most brilliant moves Thomas Dimitroff has made in his 11-year tenure as the Falcons' general manager. Of course, it's still too early to say, but there is certainly cause for excitement. Very few 2018 NFL Mock Drafts had Ridley going to Atlanta — nobody expected him to be around that long. With the addition of Ridley, Falcons' offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has an offense that is stacked with weapons that no defense will be able to take lightly in the 2018 season.
Despite flying under the radar this offseason, the Falcons have made some key improvements on both sides of the ball. With or without any hype, 2018 should be a promising year for this team.