NFL Rumors: Baker Mayfield fit, Saquon Barkley goodbye, Falcons QB priority

  • Falcons' offseason priority is exactly what you expect
  • Giants essentially say bon voyage to Saquon Barkley
  • Patriots named possible fit for Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Baker Mayfield, Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports
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NFL rumors: Falcons' offseason priority is QB position

The Atlanta Falcons finished last season 7-10, one game short of first place in the NFC South and hosting a playoff game. Ryan Nielsen built a top-10 defense out of spare parts and the Falcons' offense was loaded with quality, prime-aged playmakers — Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Drake London, Tyler Allegeir. If there was one clear limiting factor, it was the quarterback position.

Desmond Ridder somehow managed 24 turnovers (an even 12 INTs and 12 fumbles) in 15 appearances (13 starts). Taylor Heinicke was billed as the stable emergency veteran, but he only completed 54.4 percent of his passes and committed five turnovers to six touchdowns in five games (four starts).

No team has ever been "a QB away" more than the Falcons. Maybe a QB and a coach. Atlanta canned Arthur Smith in favor of Raheem Morris, who filled out his staff with Los Angeles Rams transplants. The loss of Nielsen at DC stings, but Morris comes with a strong defensive track record and the blueprint is laid out. So, the main concern is getting the Falcons' offense up to speed.

Speaking with NFL Network, Atlanta GM Terry Fontenot stated the obvious. One of the Falcons' main offseason priorities is the quarterback position.

"That's a top priority for us this offseason, and it's exciting. Again, not only people that have been in the building, but people outside of the building from Raheem (Morris) and (offensive coordinator) Zac (Robinson), (QBs coach) T.J. Yates, (assistant coach) Ken Zampese, (assistant QBs coach) DJ Williams -- we have a lot of really smart people in the building. We're going to spend a lot of time together, make sure we attack that the right way. We're not going to close any doors, be it trades, free agency, the draft. We will make sure we keep an open mind there and we're going to attack it and make sure we get it right."

The Falcons are taking an open-minded approach to solving their QB crisis. A few avenues to improvement exist. The Falcons could pursue free agent veterans at different price ranges — Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, and Mason Rudolph come to mind. Justin Fields is also a popular trade candidate. Or, if the Falcons want to get bold, trading up from No. 8 to select one of the top QBs in the NFL Draft is an option. Maybe Atlanta falls in love with J.J. McCarthy in the No. 8 spot. It's all on the table.

No matter the ultimate solution, the Falcons cannot enter the 2024 campaign with Desmond Ridder under center. The 24-year-old deserves another crack at it eventually, but he is not ready to lead the Falcons anywhere particularly special.