This is a brand new article series that I am starting called “If I Were a GM.” This series will be articles about things I would do if I was the general manager of NFL Teams and list out the perfect scenario that could play out. I’m going to go through each NFL team and highlight some offseason moves and draft picks that would set that respective team up for the future. All 32 NFL teams will be included in this series and the series will end before the 2019 NFL Draft. I’m going to be wheeling and dealing and I hope you guys enjoy the series. 

The Falcons were a Super Bowl contender just a couple years ago. Since then, lackluster offensive and defensive play has shot them down. Injuries on both sides of the ball doesn’t help either. The Falcons finished 7-9 in 2018. I believe the team is very talented and with some moves, they can make a push for the playoffs once again. 

What I have to work with: 5 million in cap space and my full complement of picks (one pick per round)

Notable Players: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Desmond Trufant, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Devonta Freeman, Calvin Ridley.

Biggest Needs: DE, DT, CB, OL, LB 

Create Some Cap Space

So as you can tell, the Falcons have a talented football team. Some of their key players are either signed long term or are on their rookie contracts. Right now I only have 5 million in cap space and that isn’t good. So here is what we are going to do. Release veterans Fusco, Crawford, Bosher, and Hooper. Releasing these players will free up around 11 million in cap space and I can find cheap replacements. Extend Vic Beasley, I know he has been disappointing but I am not in position to let defensive talent walk out the door. Signing him to a 3 year extension for around 7 million annually will keep both sides happy and moving him back to outside linebacker can rejuvenate his production.  Lastly, restructure Matt Ryan’s Contract. A 22 million dollar cap hit is big time, and if Ryan wants to make another run at the Super Bowl, restructuring his contract is the best way for me to fill the holes on our roster. If we chop his base salary down to 14 million and turn it into incentives and bonuses, I can save 8 million against the cap. 

After Cap Space Magic: 32,800,00 in cap space and 7 draft picks

Trade Mohamed Sanu

Sanu has been an excellent number 2 wide receiver since coming over to Atlanta, but trading him is a must. There are plenty of teams looking for wide receiver help, and with a  weak free agency class, I can trade Sanu for a nice draft pick. Looking at recent trades of Golden Tate and Demaryius Thomas, Sanu can potentially net me a third or fourth round pick, especially since he has a reasonable contract. The Patriots hold three third rounders and have a desperate need at WR. Sanu can play both outside and inside and the Patriots would be excited to have him. Trading Sanu to the Patriots for the 73rd overall pick (Round 3, pick 9) would be great for both sides. There are many other teams looking for a WR so getting a 3rdwould be a great deal.

After Trading Sanu: 36,600,00 in cap space and 8 draft picks

Be Smart in Free Agency

With around 36 million in cap space, the Falcons can now be players in free agency. The key here is to sign one of the top defensive ends or tackles. Players like Trey Flowers or Dante Fowler, Jr. should be the primary focus. Next should be a linebacker to play alongside Deion Jones. Players like Deone Bucannon and Shane Ray would be perfect. Both players are athletic linebackers who can help Jones cover the field and chip in on pass rushing. The Falcons should commit to a hybrid defense considering how athletic and versatile their defensive players are. Signing players like Bucannon and Ray would fit Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme which needs athletic defensive players. 

Sign Dante Fowler Jr. for around 9 million dollars annually- 27 million left

Sign Shane Ray and Deone Bucannon for around 3-4 million dollars each- 20 million left

After Free Agency: Around 20 million dollars in cap space and 8 draft picks

NFL Draft

Round 1, Pick 14: Jonah Williams or Top OL Prospect- The Falcons need to protect Matt Ryan better, and get healthy on the offensive line is a big boost. Adding a player like Jonah Williams would solidify this line and bring it back to glory. Williams is versatile enough to play tackle or guard and can be moved to fit the holes we have on the OL. Players like Cody Ford or Andre Dillard can work here as well. 

Round 2, Pick 13: Dre’Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State- Jones didn’t have the most impressive workout at the combine, and Falcons fans should be happy. Jones is a bid bodied defender and can step next to Grady Jarrett to solidify the inside. 

Round 3, Pick 9 (From New England): Charles Omenihu, DE, Texas- Long and Lean, Omenihu can add some much need pass rushing ability to the Falcons Defensive Line. Charles is an athletic end with a great speed rush. His impact would allow Vic Beasley to become more of a periodic pass rusher, which is what he excels in. 

Round 3, Pick 15: David Long, CB, Michigan- After spending a second round pick last year on a corner, we will use a third on one as well. David Long is a hard nose press corner that could fit inside and outside. Running a 4.45 and putting up 15 bench press reps shows what kind of athlete this guy his. He will be the cherry on top of a rebuilt defense. 

4 remaining picks are in positions of need are (in order): TE, WR, OL, S

Recap

There was a lot to take in and this should be a busy offseason for the Falcons if they do not want to settle for missing the playoffs once again. The rebuilt defense now includes the likes of Grady Jarrett, Dante Fowler Jr., Vic Beasley, Desmond Trufant, Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Shane Ray, Deone Bucannon and others. That looks a whole lot better than what the Falcons have now. With an offense like the Falcons, putting up points should not be an issue and the improved defense ensure that the Falcons will once again be back in the playoff picture.