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With NFL training camps set to open across the league, the Atlanta Falcons aren’t a popular pick to return to the playoffs following their three-year drought.
It’s hard to imagine the Falcons being any worse than they were during last year’s four-win season, but the team’s lack of salary cap funds — which includes $22 million of dead money being paid to nine former players — prevented Atlanta from adding any top-tier free agents. First-round pick Kyle Pitts was pretty much the team’s only major offseason acquisition.
Touchdown Wire’s Mark Schofield dropped his pre-training camp power rankings on Wednesday and the Falcons came in at No. 26. In spite of trading away Julio Jones, arguably team’s best player, Atlanta is still trying to win this season. This has Schofield skeptical that the team can make a playoff run in 2021.
“As someone who loved Justin Fields as a prospect, and salivated at the idea of him in an Arthur Smith offense, it was still exciting to see the Atlanta Falcons draft Kyle Pitts in the first round with the fourth overall selection,” Schofield writes. “Based on his film and athletic profile, Pitts looks the part of the “unicorn,” the matchup nightmare of a player who can operate against cornerbacks, linebackers and safeties alike.
But the the Falcons traded away Julio Jones, sending him to the Tennessee Titans. Sure, Atlanta was in a somewhat difficult place with the salary cap, but if the team was going to make such a trade, then perhaps looking to the future with a quarterback might have been the right move. So the question facing the Falcons is this: Are they rebuilding, retooling, or in franchise purgatory, somewhere in the middle?”
It’s fair to question if Atlanta even believes it can compete this season considering the team’s many free-agent losses and defensive question marks.
Although, Falcons fans might actually enjoy entering 2021 with low expectations as opposed to previous years where many NFL analysts wrongly assumed the offense would carry the team.
Training camp starts on July 29.