CBS Sports labels Falcons ‘losers’ following Day 1 of free agency
The Atlanta Falcons spent over $200 million on player contracts Monday as the NFL’s legal tampering period kicked off with a bang. A big portion of that money is going to right guard Chris Lindstrom, who signed a five-year, $105 million extension.
The team later agreed to terms with free agent Jessie Bates III on a four-year, $64 million contract and added two former Saints players — defensive lineman David Onyemata and linebacker Kaden Elliss.
Even after securing one of the top free agents on the market and extending their best offensive lineman, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin labeled the Falcons “losers” following day one of free agency:
There’s no doubt they’ve improved their lineup, but much like the Jaguars in 2022, it’s not hard to see how they might’ve better allocated abundant resources. Bengals safety Jessie Bates III (4 years, $64M) is a big, albeit expensive, get for a secondary previously devoid of more than a single long-term playmaker. And locking up All-Pro guard Chris Lindstrom is smart, but he’s shattered the RG market with a $105M extension that’ll pay him $21M per year, more than any inside O-lineman in the NFL. Worse yet, did they really need to trade for underachieving Patriots TE Jonnu Smith (and his lofty contract) when Kyle Pitts is already in tow? Or commit $35M to Saints DT David Onyemata, a solid but unspectacular 30-year-old starter?
When a young player like Lindstrom earns a mega-extension, it tends to reset the market, regardless of position. So while it’s undoubtedly a lot of money to commit to an interior lineman, Lindstrom has earned it due to his consistency year to year.
CBS Sports also cites Atlanta’s trade for Jonnu Smith as questionable, but considering the team only gave up a seventh-round pick, it’s just a matter of whether you think the tight end is worth the money. The Falcons won’t find a player like Smith in the seventh round, however, his price tag is north of $10 million in each of his two remaining seasons.
Head coach Arthur Smith likes to utilize two-tight end sets, so there’s a chance it pays off. Plus, the team had the money to afford overpaying for someone they see value in. The trade could also mean Pitts is better utilized as a wide receiver — a position the team has very little depth at currently.
Onyemata is getting $35 million overall, but his contract averages roughly $11.6 million per season. This is just the 18th-best contract for a defensive tackle, which isn’t bad for a player that’s productive and familiar with defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen.
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