Mar 15, 2023 - Sports

Atlanta Falcons make key signings early in NFL's free agency period

Desmond Ridder #4 of the Atlanta Falcons hands the ball off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Jan. 8 in Atlanta. Credit: Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons entered this offseason with two things they haven't had in what feels like forever: hope and money.

State of play: After two consecutive 7-10 seasons, the Falcons had $62 million available to improve the team on both sides of the ball.

  • Money from bloated contracts given to Matt Ryan and Julio Jones are also finally off the books.

Why it matters: Arthur Blank and Falcons fans want a Super Bowl. They have had to penny-pinch for the past two offseasons — having just enough money to field a team but not enough to sign difference-makers on offense and defense.

Yes, but: The checkbook is open now, though general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith are sure to be smart about the players they bring into the organization.

What happened: On day one of the NFL's free agency period the Falcons made some solid moves:

  • Signed offensive lineman Chris Lindstrom to a five-year extension and added a backup quarterback in Taylor Heinecke.
  • Signed safety Jessie Bates from the Cincinnati Bengals to provide much-needed help in the secondary.
  • Kept punter Bradley Pinion and fullback Keith Smith for Atlanta's run-heavy offense.
  • Beefed up the front seven on defense by adding tackle David Onyemata and linebacker Kaden Elliss.

What's next: The deals can't become official until Wednesday when the new NFL league year starts.

  • Expect the Falcons to continue to bargain hunt and sign players who feel important needs instead of making a big-name splash.
  • The NFL draft is April 27 and the Falcons have the 8th overall pick.
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