The Atlanta Falcons are facing plenty of questions after a terrible season. Here are four that must be answered before the NFL Draft.
1. Should the Atlanta Falcons renegotiate or cut Vic Beasley?
Vic Beasley has a 12.8 million team option for this upcoming season. Let me spoil the secret. The Falcons won’t be picking up that option. So, either the Falcons have to cut the pass rusher or bring him back for significantly less money.
The Falcons are already lacking defensive line depth, so bringing him back is a good solution for the Falcons. It’s just if Vic wants to come back for less money or try his luck on the open market. The way Vic has played the last couple seasons, I would think he will be looking to come back to the Falcons to prove himself a capable pass rusher worth a big payday.
Then it’s up to the Falcons whether they even want Vic back. With the draft stocked with young defensive line talent, it’s possible that the Falcons will move on from the former top ten picks. Whatever the team decides, there is no denying Vic has been a disappointment since his breakout 2015 season.
2. What happens with Mohamed Sanu?
The Falcons are stacked at wide receiver. Julio Jones is head of the pack, followed by Calvin Ridley, and Austin Hooper. Sanu has been Julio’s number two until Ridley came along last season. Now, Sanu is the third, the maybe fourth option for the Falcons.
With a 7.4 million cap hit coming up this season, that’s a pricey option. If the Falcons were to cut bait, there would still be plenty of options for Matt Ryan to throw to.
I like Sanu a lot as a player, but with Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett needing to get paid this offseason, it could be time for Sanu to exit Atlanta. Maybe he will be willing to take less money to return to the team, but he’s still a young guy who is able to produce for a winning team. I would love to have Sanu here, but when he’s becoming a luxury and not a necessity, it might be time to leave for Mo.
3. Is it time to draft a young QB to back up Matt Ryan?
Matt Ryan has only missed two starts in his 11-year career as the Falcons starting quarterback. That is incredible for the longevity and luck of Matt Ryan. That doesn’t mean something can’t happen this upcoming season. Matt is getting older, even though he just signed a new deal last season, so it’s never too early to look for a young replacement. Matt Schaub has been the backup for the last two seasons, but at age 37, I don’t know how many years Schaub has left in him. By drafting someone, the Falcons can save some money by having a cheap QB who can learn from Matt for a few seasons. The Falcons have been lucky for their lack of worry at the QB position, but it’s never too early to start thinking about the future.
4. Are the Falcons going to address the offensive line in free agency or the draft?
The offensive line was an issue for the Falcons last season. After suffering two major injuries to starters on the line, the Falcons were left with a lackluster line to protect the most valuable asset in Atlanta, Matt Ryan. The Falcons are lacking the depth it takes to be a competitive team on the offensive line. We saw last season, how hard it was for the Falcons to run the ball behind the offensive line as it is currently constructed. And when the Falcons can’t run the ball, the opponents’ defense can hone in on Matt Ryan.
It doesn’t matter how good the offense is, if Matt Ryan doesn’t have time to throw the ball or a running game to support him, the Falcons will be in trouble. With the holes on the defensive line, the Falcons may focus early in the draft on the defensive side. That means the Falcons will have to address the offensive line through late draft picks or free agency. It’s an issue that can not be ignored for another season. Let’s hope the Falcons can make the right moves to improve this team.