3 Falcons who could be playing their final season in Atlanta

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Deen Worley
·3 min read
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The Falcons are eyeballing an identity change, and it may happen by parting ways with some of team’s most beloved players. Each franchise has fan favorites, but to see them in another team’s colors can be nauseating. However, sacrifice is oftentimes the cost of doing business.

Considering production, injury history and potential cap savings, here is an early look at three players who could potentially play elsewhere in 2022. This list does not include players playing in a contract year.

WR Julio Jones

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Julio "Jet" Jones has been a staple in the Falcons franchise since the team gave up a haul to trade up and draft him in 2011. Since then, Jones has claimed almost every franchise receiving record while rattling off six consecutive seasons with over 1,300 receiving yards. However, despite being proclaimed as the NFL's best receiver for so long, his time in Atlanta could be cut short due to injury and salary concerns. Jones' 2020 season was marred by injuries after missing two of the first five games and five of the final six. Injuries haven't been a major concern in the past, but at 32 years old, soft tissue injuries don't heal like they used to. Ultimately, Jones' performance and ability to remain healthy in 2021 will be the deciding factor on his future in Atlanta. But are the Falcons overpaying for a receiver who has only scored more than eight touchdowns once (2012) in his career?

DT Grady Jarrett

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

There' no denying Jarrett's ability. Since 2018, Jarrett has amassed over 150 tackles, 17.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and 53 quarterback hits. However, the likelihood that Jarrett stays with the Falcons beyond 2021 doesn't dissipate due to his performance on the field, but rather the amount of savings the team could make by parting ways.

Savings from Cut/Trade Post-6/1

Player

2021 (Cut)

2021 (Trade)

2022 (Cut/Trade)

Grady Jarrett

$10,833,000

$15,333,000

$18,333,000

As noted earlier, the Falcons will have more cap difficulties next offseason and parting ways with Jarrett could be one of the big moves that makes sense. Unlike Julio Jones, Jarrett having a strong 2021 season could boost his trade value and increase the likelihood he is dealt next offseason. There is also a strong possibility the Falcons move Jarrett this season depending on how the season unfolds. The team should be able to bring in a quality amount of draft picks as compensation. However, restructuring Jarrett's contract this offseason could make any sort of move unlikely.

EDGE Dante Fowler

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

Barring any sort of resemblance to his 2019 season with the Rams, it seems to be a sure bet that Fowler will be playing his final downs with the Falcons this coming season.

PD

FF

Sacks

Tackles

TFL

QB Hits

Dante Fowler (2019)

6

2

11.5

58

16

16

Dante Fowler (2020)

1

1

3

23

4

8

You never judge an edge rusher solely by his ability to bring down the quarterback, but going from a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2019 to just three in 2020 is a huge concern. However, Fowler's 2019 blip in performance could be at the hands of opposing teams taking more concern to cover fellow lineman Aaron Donald, who saw consistent double and triple-team coverage. The Falcons threw cash at the former first-rounder and may have caught a lucky break with his willingness to take a pay cut, per The Athletic's Jeff Schultz. However, unless Fowler turns things around this season, I'm fairly confident he will be playing elsewhere in 2022.

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