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