Atlanta Falcons: Backup Tight End is the Team’s Only Upgrade

Atlanta Falcons, Luke Stocker (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Luke Stocker (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Grady Jarrett (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

Defensively the Atlanta Falcons decided to retain pass rusher Vic Beasley at a salary of 12.8 million dollars, despite him only registering five sacks. I wrote about that being a questionable decision in this piece. Beasley saw an increase in production, logging four of his five sacks after the arrival of veteran pass rusher Bruce Irvin. Despite that fact Irvin, who seemed elated to be playing in his hometown of Atlanta, was allowed to leave the nest via free agency. He signed a one year deal with the division rival Carolina Panthers.

Grady Jarrett was retained via the franchise tag at a salary of 15.2 million dollars for the upcoming season. The team’s inability to sign Jarrett to a long-term deal, is a major factor restricting the team in free agency. Should the Atlanta Falcons come to terms with Jarrett, it could create cap space for the club to sign a free agent or two, depending on the structure of the contract. However time is running short for that relief, as the free agent market is drying up. Jay Clemons of 11 Alive stated that the two sides were still far apart as of earlier this month in this story.

Atlanta also resigned two key reserves, defensive end Steven Means and linebacker Bruce Carter. Steven Means posted a career best PFF grade of 74.9 in 162 snaps last season. Bruce Carter did not fare as well, posting a grade of 55.5. He was a regular member of the starting special teams unit after signing however.

The Atlanta Falcons decided to cut starting cornerback Robert Alford. This is a move that was necessary and should prove to be addition by subtraction. Alford was torched for an inexcusable 849 yards and seven touchdowns. He was also whistled for a horrendous 12 penalties last season. I suggested four months ago that the club should cut its loses with Alford here. Atlanta also moved on from the services of slot cornerback Brian Poole who signed with the New York Jets. They decided to not retain defensive end Brooks Reed as well. Reed who was a key run defender, was signed by the Arizona Cardinals.