The Falcons have needs at every position, or at least they have room to improve their roster across the board. I want to look at every position group to see what areas where the Falcons can improve. Let’s start first with quarterback.
It is expected that the Falcons will begin contract extension talks with Matt Ryan at some point this off-season. Ryan is signed through the 2013 season, and thus the Falcons don’t want to get into a situation next off-season where they are in a protracted contract stalemate with Ryan. If the Falcons can get Ryan locked up to a long-term deal, then it will alleviate many of the issues they have at this position.
Next on the Falcons to-do list is going to be addressing the No. 2 spot on the roster. Luke McCown was signed just before the start of the regular season to replace Chris Redman and John Parker Wilson, both of whom struggled in the preseason. McCown can be a competent reserve when the conditions around him are ideal, namely when he has a ground game, playmakers at wide receiver, and doesn’t have to play from behind. Those conditions could be met in Atlanta if the Falcons can get their ground game back on track but they don’t want to be in a situation where McCown will be asked to start multiple games in the event of a Ryan injury.
McCown is a free agent, and he could be retained fairly easily. It’s unlikely he’ll get anything more than a one-year, near-minimum deal on the open market, so if the Falcons offer the same it’s likely he’ll remain in Atlanta. But the Falcons need at quarterback will be bringing in more competition. Dominique Davis will represent the third quarterback on the roster and will be in the competition, but the team needs a fourth arm. Traditionally the Falcons have relied on undrafted talent to fill this part of the depth chart, but it might be time that the team delves into free agency or the draft to try and find more than your run of the mill undrafted prospect.
The ideal fit for the Falcons will be someone that is somewhat familiar with Dirk Koetter’s scheme. But also from a skill standpoint, they probably want to look for someone that is comfortable with a vertical passing game. It remains to be seen whether or not the Falcons running game makes significant strides next year, and thus the team may still be reliant on the explosiveness of their passing game to potentially win games if Ryan were to go down. There’s an obvious candidate that fits both requirements: David Garrard.
While the Falcons could look for talent in the middle to late portion of the draft, the presence of Davis on the roster probably mitigates their desire for another young, developing quarterback. Davis possesses a big arm and mobility, which if he can polish up his mechanics and become more comfortable making his progressions could develop into a capable No. 2.
Whether the Falcons choose to retain McCown or move in another direction, the key is that they bring in some arms that can bolster competition in camp. Whoever fills the backup spot in 2013 should be in for an open, intense competition, and settling for retaining an average McCown and green Davis won’t be enough to provide that.