Falcons Free Agency Grades

The start of NFL Free Agency commenced on March 16th as there were several stars on the move looking for new homes.

After a 7-10 season, the hometown Atlanta Falcons were looking to bring in a difference-maker that would lift the team to playoff contention, as the NFC South is as wide open as ever.  

At the beginning of the 2022 Free Agency period, the Falcons had 28 players set to be free agents. 

Key players such as the NFL league leader in tackles, Foyesade Oluokun and all-purpose running back Cordarelle Patterson were set for big paydays.

Falcons GM Terry Fontenot said, “The best form of free agency is developing and signing your own players.”

“You’re not guessing. We know exactly who they are in the building. That’s important,” Fontenot explained. “Ideally, when it’s players in your building, those are the players you want to invest in.”

It would be near impossible for the Falcons to keep both players as they were already struggling to stay above the salary cap.

The Falcons’ decision was made when Oluokun signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a three-year $45 million deal.

Here is the list of the notable Falcons free agency signings and their accompanying grades as determined by their potential impact on the team.

Cordarelle Patterson:

After having a 2021 campaign where he had over 1100+ all-purpose yards, Patterson re-signed with the Falcons on a two-year, $10.5 million deal.

Re-signing Patterson was an immediate need as he provides so much for the team in different facets on offense and special teams.

Grade: A

Marcus Mariota:

Mariota is coming off two seasons as the backup quarterback for the Las Vegas Raiders. He signs for just two years worth  $18.75 million.

With Matt Ryan being traded to the Indianapolis Colts, head coach Arthur Smith is reunited with his former Tennessee Titans quarterback and possible successor to Matty Ice.

With much speculation, the Mariota signing shows that the Falcons are in a rebuild mode, and Mariota is  the placeholder for the next franchise QB. This signing makes sense but doesn’t excite many Falcons fans. 

Grade: C+

Lorenzo Carter:

Following the release of veteran Dante Fowler Jr., the Flacons quickly looked to scoop up former Georgia Bulldog Lorenzo Carter on a one-year prove-it deal. 

After a four-year stint with the New York Giants, where he only had 14.5 sacks,  Carter is looking to provide a spark off the edge amid his fresh start in Atlanta.

Grade: D+

Casey Hayward Jr.:

Hayward Jr. is joining the Falcons on a two-year $11 million deal after spending this past season with the Las Vegas Raiders. 

The 32-year-old, 2x pro bowler is a solid cornerback number two and a great mentor to pair opposite the young stud A.J Terrell and the rest of the defensive backs on the roster.

Grade: B+

Damien Williams:

The former Super Champion is looking for a change of scenery as he departs the Bears and joins the Falcons on a one-year deal.

Williams only had 46 rush attempts for 164 yards and two TDs for the Bears. With a crowded running back room with no clear starter, Williams has a chance to stand out as the bellcow and reinvigorate his career. 

Grade: B

Younghoe Koo:

The re-signing of  Koo on a five-year $24.25 million deal is a no-brainer to Dirty Bird Nation. 

Over the past three seasons with the Falcons, Koo has made 92.6% of his field goals, numbers that haven’t been seen since former Falcons placekicker Matt Bryant. 

Known for consistency, Koo is and will become a household name within not only the Falcons organization but the rest of the NFL.

Grade: A+

Falcons’ overall free agency grade: C+

They have used free agency to upgrade in positions of need while still holding the eighth overall pick in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft. General Manager Terry Fontenot made the proper signings but will continue to build through the draft.