It seemed as though Falcons Training Camp would never get here but we are about to embark on the Dan Quinn era. With a new era come new expectations and new evaluations of players. Here are my 5 Falcons who I believe enter a make or break season to move forward with the team…
5. Ra’Shede Hageman… It’s not often that a year plus removed from being drafted you can make absolutely ZERO assessment of a player, but that’s the case with Ra’Shede. Is he a DE?… Is he a DT?… Can he stop the run or is he better suited to sack the QB? Way too many unanswered questions for a player who is the 37th pick of the 2014 draft. Its that fact the might be his only saving grace for staying if he can’t assert some significant role in 2015.
4. Devin Hester… Hester was everything and MORE for the Falcons last season but he is a 32 year old return specialist who is also at best a 3rd WR option. If it’s not a repeat of last season his 3.8 million dollar cap hit for 2016 may be too much for not enough value.
3. Paul Soliai… All I can say is “Ooftah!” when thinking of his play last season. Too many “Ole” moments for a guy who was supposed to be a solid run stuffer. If you can come up with one meaningful play from last season you are better than me. If he doesn’t make a big leap forward expect the Falcons to eat any and all Dead Money attached to him.
2. Roddy White… I’m a big believer in there’s no Old Timers Day contracts in the NFL. Nothing personal but Roddy has a bad contract for a mid-30’s WR who is getting injured more frequent each year. After this year he still has TWO more years with an avg cap hit of $6.2 million. He is also going to be part of an offense that we expect to more run vs pass balance than in year’s past most likely reducing his role and numbers. It may be hard to justify an increase in salary number while statistical numbers drop.
1. Tyson Jackson… I will admit I’m jaded because I saw him play every game last year but I truly believe he is one of the worst position players in the entire NFL. While not a Pass Rush specialist the only 2 times I saw him hit a QB last year both resulted in a 15 yard penalty. Personally I don’t think he can get any better and with only $4.8 million in Dead Money for 2016 I expect the Falcons to eat it and move on.