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Raheem Morris addresses team needs, Desmond Ridder trade at owners’ meetings

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By: Dave Choate

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Falcons’ head coach touched on major needs and possible acquistions.

It’s the NFL owners’ meetings, which means most of the national attention is on major rule changes being proposed and potentially approved, as the hip drop tackle ban was yesterday. Head coaches are also in attendance, however, and Raheem Morris provided reporters with some quick insights into what the Atlanta Falcons are working on now and need to work on in the immediate future.

In the course of his brief time, Morris touched on the team’s quarterback situation, where the Falcons plan to add to the roster, and even Calais Campbell. Here’s a brief roundup.

Falcons will add a third quarterback

If you’re wondering why the Falcons haven’t touched Taylor Heinicike’s deal yet, given the savings inherent in a move, Morris may have shed some light on that.

I think the assumption when Desmond Ridder was traded was that Heinicke would step into the #2 role and lock it down, but my working assumption was that the team would restructure his deal if that was the plan. After all, they barely have any cap space, and a simple restructure would free that room up, even if it essentially makes it more difficult to move on from Heinicke next year.

Instead, the Falcons have been sitting on that deal, and the reason is likely because they want to see their options at quarterback. If they hit the draft and get a long-term option, it’s possible Heinicke will still be cut, saving the Falcons close to $6 million in cap space to use in the summer. Morris did allude to the team spending time going back to look at who might be available in this draft class.

Heinicke is still the favorite for that job at the moment, but the team’s vocal desire to add a third option and the possibility that it might be a second day rookie means you can’t do more than lightly pencil him in to a roster spot at the moment.

Morris also touched on the opportunity to add speed with acquiring Rondale Moore, and basically confirmed the idea that speed is something the Falcons covet in a rebuilt offense.

Desmond Ridder didn’t demand trade

Unlike the Kenny Pickett situation in Pittsburgh, the Ridder trade went through quietly and without any talk of a disgruntled quarterback. Morris confirmed that Ridder wasn’t looking to get out in his remarks, despite obviously no longer having a path to a starting job or even an uncontested shot at a reserve role.

Instead, the Falcons appeared to covet Moore, as I mentioned above. With Avery Williams returning from injury and a major need at receiver, Moore can slot in as a useful player out of the backfield, potential slot receiver, and emergency returner option with terrific quickness, and despite his mediocre production in Arizona it’s pretty easy to understand why the Falcons might want that.

Morris also suggested a fresh start might benefit Ridder, something I think is more than fair to suggest after how miserable the 2023 season was for the young quarterback, and given that his biggest champion was fired at the end of that season.

Calais Campbell may still return

Apparently the Falcons are trying to lure Campbell back for one more year. Given how well Campbell played last year and given his veteran presence being a major plus for what’s expected to be a young defense, Atlanta’s interest in understandable. Whether Campbell wants to return or not is the question.

Young players in the secondary will be added

It sounds like the Falcons may add more help to the secondary—cornerback in particular—via the draft or late spring free agency additions. It also sounds like Morris is going to covet young players.

This is interesting because the Falcons already have a very young secondary, with A.J. Terrell and Jessie Bates serving as elder statesmen in their mid-20s for a group that includes Dee Alford and Clark Phillips at cornerback and Richie Grant and DeMarcco Hellams at safety. Having a young, stellar group would be ideal for Atlanta, but this does mean it’s unlikely that Phillips and Alford are locked into any sort of major role until we see what happens in the draft.

Pass rush will be addressed

Obviously the Falcons can’t simply leave the pass rush alone, given that they’ve shed pieces without adding any. They’ve been linked to potential trades and signings since last year’s trade deadline, and it’s beyond obvious that a high-end option or two is a major need, as it has been for a very long time.

So it’s little surprise to see Morris address that particular elephant in the room by pledging to add to the group up front. What’s more heartening is hearing Morris, who spent years with the Falcons in the past and is clearly familiar with the team’s sorry history in this regard, speaking directly to fans yearning for a better pass rush.

The hope is that the Falcons will unearth a really good edge rusher in the draft and/or free agency before all is said and done, but given Morris’s words here and Terry Fontenot’s habit of tinkering with the roster, we can probably expect the team to add options throughout the summer with the hopes of landing on a good group heading into the year.

Originally posted on The Falcoholic – All Posts