Spending money doesn’t always translate to success in the NFL, but when you’ve been without salary cap space for as long as the Atlanta Falcons have, it sure feels like an improvement.
Following two consecutive 7-10 seasons, the team is determined to make the leap to the postseason in Year 3 of the Arthur Smith era. The Falcons upgraded their secondary and defensive line in free agency, while locking up two key offensive linemen and adding running back Bijan Robinson in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft.
Did Atlanta do enough over the course of the offseason to end its five-year playoff drought? ESPN doesn’t seem to think so. In Bill Barnwell’s 2023 NFL offseason rankings, the Falcons came in at No. 26:
Blessed with breathing room financially for the first time in his tenure, general manager Terry Fontenot went to work. The big signing was star safety Jessie Bates, who helped rebuild the culture in Cincinnati after the Bengals bottomed out early in his career. The Falcons could have as many as seven new veteran starters on the defensive side of the ball with Bates, Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Bud Dupree, Kaden Elliss, Mike Hughes and Jeff Okudah. – Bill Barnwell, ESPN
If the Falcons addressed their biggest defensive issues, then what’s the problem? Barnwell cites short-sighted signings and the inexperience of quarterback Desmond Ridder as his primary issues with the team:
Will Atlanta be better on defense in 2022? Yes. There’s also a chance that the only players from this group on the 2024 team will be Onyemata and Bates, though, and that the Falcons will be back in the same position a year from now. If they were the Chiefs, going out and getting Campbell and Dupree to play situational roles would make sense. As a team with Desmond Ridder at quarterback, I was hoping they would make more consequential moves to add players who will be around for years to come.
A lack of faith in Ridder is a common theme among those NFL analysts doubting the Falcons in 2023. While it’s not unreasonable to take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to Ridder, Arthur Smith has a lot riding on this season and therefore , he clearly sees something in the young signal-caller.
The 2023 NFL season officially kicks off 100 days from now, so it’ll be a few months before we know what this team is really made of.
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Story originally appeared on Falcons Wire