A year ago, the Atlanta Falcons were playing with fire when they headed into the 2014 season with Dominique Davis as the top backup behind quarterback Matt Ryan. That changed last June when the team traded for Houston Texans third-stringer T.J. Yates.
Yates had an up and down preseason, but managed to snag the No. 2 job from Sean Renfree thanks to a couple of impressive throws in the preseason finale. But all told, it didn’t do much to give the Falcons confidence that they had found their long-term backup behind Ryan.
Yates is now a free agent and could easily be re-signed. He’s a native of Marietta, Georgia, and thus would probably like to stick around his hometown given the low probability that he’ll get any sniffs as a potential starter elsewhere this offseason. The Falcons should be able to re-sign Yates to a one-year, veteran minimum contract to at least return and keep for a backup spot next year.
But that really just goes to show that Yates is more of a warm body. With new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan coming in, he’ll have to decide if he wants to try and groom someone else to be Ryan’s backup.
One thing is definite, Renfree will be back in camp. It should be relatively easy and simple to bring back Yates, thus why it’s a likelihood he’ll return. The biggest question will be whether the Falcons opt to bring in a veteran free agent or a rookie to be that fourth arm.
Given the wealth of other needs across the roster and the overall weakness of the 2015 quarterback draft class, the odds are extremely low that the Falcons will use a draft pick on a passer. But they could certainly seek to add an undrafted free agent to be a body in camp.
Considering how weak the draft class is which also extends to the undrafted market, the Falcons might be best served signing a veteran for the league-minimum if they want to have the best competition. Free agents such as Rex Grossman and Dan Orlovsky have some familiarity with Shanahan’s offense. Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer is likely to get some nibbles potentially as a starter, which could price him out of Atlanta. But he could offer a significant upgrade over the likes of Yates or Renfree if the Falcons are willing to pay a premium.