Whether you agree or disagree with the free agent moves that the Falcons have made – and the money that they spent on them – there is one thing that can’t be disputed: Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff wasted no time in getting busy and bringing on board veteran players to fill some of the holes the roster clearly had.
With that said, right now it’s all fairly meaningless. Come training camp, the 2016 NFL season, and beyond, then we’ll be able to determine if they were successful or failed to live up to expectations.READ MORE: Nourish + Bloom Market, World's First Black-Owned Autonomous Grocery Store, Opens In Fayetteville
Here’s what I think about the newest flock of Falcons….
Alex Mack – A little more than a year removed from a broken leg, if he stays healthy this is an extremely positive acquisition for the Birds. Mack was the top center on the market, and considering the calamitous nature in which three Atlanta centers performed in 2015, this was a guy they had to go out and get. Mission accomplished in reeling in the previous three-time Pro Bowler. Mack is durable, and is equally adept in run blocking and pass protection. And, he’s worked in the zone blocking scheme the Falcons utilize since he played for offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in Cleveland. For all of the ill-will that’s been directed towards Shanahan in a little over one year on the scene, it’s likely Mack isn’t here if Shanahan’s not. A little tidbit that the naysayers should keep in mind. (This move deserves an A)READ MORE: Family Of Vincent Truitt Files $150 Million Lawsuit Against Cobb County, Police Officer
Mohamed Sanu – I’m a lot less amped up about this signing. Yes, Sanu is a big, fast, and diverse receiver. But, in filling the spot vacated by the release of Roddy White for all intent purposes, Sanu accumulated worse stats than Roddy did in 2015. He didn’t even find the end zone. And the Falcons gave him a guaranteed $14 million over the next two years. Yes, the salary cap hit for 2016 will be rather cheap considering Sanu will be working for just $1 million. But forget the money and look at the man. Sanu IS eight years younger than Roddy, and is more of a vertical receiver, too. He’s had problems holding on to the football, but Sanu is also versatile and capable of being a weapon on reverses and throwing the pigskin, as well. Sanu has thrown five passes in his career, and completed them all… one of them going for a TD to none other than Bengals QB Andy Dalton. Maybe the biggest difference between Sanu and White is that Sanu is used to being a third or fourth option, whereas Roddy wasn’t. (All things considered, I give this a C+)
Derek Shelby – Considering the continued need for a legitimate edge rusher than can consistently pressure the opposing quarterback, I’m not impressed with this addition. Shelby played admirable for the Dolphins after Cameron Wake ruptured his Achilles tendon, but he’s a tweener. Shelby can play both inside and outside, but he’s a better run stopper than a pass rusher. That is a fact. You know, it amazes me that for all of the rhetoric that has come out of Flowery Branch the last several years about knowing how important it is to generate a pass rush – whether it was Mike Smith or now Quinn – the powers that be have failed to deliver a solution for that clear shortcoming. I know they drafted Vic Beasley, but for a first round pick, he was undersized and very much a project. It’s an area that still needs to be addressed, and the acquisition of Shelby just seems to fall short yet again. The Falcons defense needs difference makers, and Shelby isn’t one of those types of players. (I hope Shelby proves me wrong… D)
Matt Schaub – For all of the comparisons between Matt Ryan and Mike Vick, it’s pretty interesting that Matt Schaub will now be a backup to both. Let’s not forget, Atlanta traded Schaubie to Houston not long before the Vick dog-fighting story originally broke back in 2007. Who knows how history might’ve played out if they never did. Certainly Schaub has had his issues the last several years when it comes to Pick-6s, but I think he fits the bill rather nicely as a potential No. 2 behind… No. 2. As opposed to Sean Renfree, Schaub has actual NFL game experience. While Quinn has said Schaub will compete with Renfree for the backup spot, you’ve got to imagine they are either hoping Schaub can win it, or that the competition will light a fire under Renfree to step up his game and advance to another level. What the move says to me is that Quinn and Dimitroff realize how lucky the organization has been that Ryan has stayed healthy all these years, and that they want a veteran insurance policy behind him in case that luck runs out. (This addition gets a B)MORE NEWS: Atlanta Police Dept. Hosts Regional Law Enforcement Leadership Training
Sean Weatherspoon – Before I say anything else, I must admit that Spoon was one of my favorite Falcons to talk to over the years. Yeah, shocking I know. He’s just got that natural personality and is fun to watch…and listen to! In his first incarnation with the Falcons, Weatherspoon was as solid a player as there was out on the field… when he was able to stay out on the field, though. And that’s the rub with Spoon. He just can’t stay healthy. His last two seasons in Atlanta were worthless due to injury, and then last year in Arizona he was a sporadic contributor. In typical Spoon fashion, he injured a hamstring in his very first training camp workout. Now, expectations for Spoon to be an every down contributor like he was after being drafted in the first round out of Missouri in 2010 surely won’t be there. His return is all about adding some depth, and also serving as a mentor to some of the younger players on defense. All in all, his presence should be viewed as a positive. And if he does surprise and stay healthy, then that would provide a cherry on the top come Sundays. (A+ solely for quotes and smack talk, and C overall)