Falcons bracing for a ‘busy offseason’

Falcons coach Dan Quinn opens team's season-ending press conference with some thoughts on the team. (Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter/AJC)

Jones, Jarrett, Beasley, Coleman, Irvin and fixing the offensive line are all issues for the front office

The Falcons have some major offseason decisions to make to spruce up the roster and upgrade the personnel.

“Of course, from a personnel standpoint there will be re-negotiations, there will be adjustments, of course releases and signings,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Thursday. “This will be a busy offseason.”

The Falcons are coming off a 7-9 season when their depth failed them after nine players, including seven starters, were on injured reserve for most of the season. Linebacker Deion Jones returned, but running back Devonta Freeman, with the team eliminated from the playoffs, didn’t return.

“We missed the mark this year, we know that,” Dimitroff said. “We have, of course, a lot of work to do. On a lot of levels not only on the field, but off the field looking at our organization on a lot of different levels.”

The Falcons like their front-line players, but will concentrate more on the second- and third-stringers. The plan for 2019 is “getting the right personnel in place,” Dimitroff said.

The offseason priority is completing wide receiver Julio Jones re-negotiation and signing defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. The team co-builders, Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn, sounded lukewarm when discussing the future of defensive end Vic Beasley.

Jones didn’t report to offseason activities last season and had his contract enhanced. He was told he would get a new one this offseason.

“We’ll take care of that business,” Dimitroff said. “That will be done. I don’t know exactly when. He and I and the organization are in a really good place right now. He continues to lead both on and off (the field). The way that he leads was exemplary with how he approached things this year. Just really excited about how he took it on.”

Jarrett, a former fifth-round pick from Clemson, developed into a fine player. His estimated value is at $15.2 million per year, per contract web site Spotrac.

“We’d like to have Grady back for many years to come,” Dimitroff said. “Not only on the field, but what he does for us off the field is very important. That has been our focus.”

The contract discussions were tabled during the season.

“Now, we’re back again focusing on that as really as our priority,” Dimitroff said. “(I want) to see how this proceeds. I’m confident with it.”

After having 15.5 sacks in 2016, Beasley has had five sacks in 2017 and five more last season. The Falcons said they would pick up Beasley’s fifth-year option, by may now want to renegotiate a long-term deal that would lower his salary-cap number.

“As far as Vic, we’re in the same mode,” Dimitroff said. “We are looking at all of the personnel and making sure that everyone fits into what we are expecting in the future.

“ I thought Vic came on well as the season progressed. He continued to get up and around (the corner), showing his athleticism and ability.

“He’ll continue to work on that obviously. We are confident that he’ll continue to grow as a football player.”

Quinn also seemed noncommittal when discussing Beasley.

“For sure, he has an upside,” Quinn said. “That part of it, on that side of the ball you are consistently challenging and (you want to) see where we can get to. I’m certainly excited  about seeing where we can take it to.”

Running back Tevin Coleman and defensive end/linebacker Bruce Irvin appear headed for free agency.

“I was really proud of Tevin this year,” Quinn said. “Where he had to take a stronger and bigger role, a heavier role so to speak and he always had our respect, but he gained it stronger this year.”

The Falcons know it's going to be tough to keep him based on the running back market. Last season, San Francisco signed Jerick McKinnon to a four-year, $30 million deal. Coleman's comparative stats are better. 

“With him, there’s lot of discussions that everybody is going to have regarding the roster,” Quinn said. “Nothing is off the table with anybody or anything. Those are all ones that are part of that puzzle that we’re talking about. The guy did a helluva job this year. I couldn’t have been more impressed.”

Irvin, an Atlanta native, was released by the Raiders and cleared waivers during the season. He had better offers, but elected to sign a one-year deal with the Falcons on Nov. 7.

At 4-4, there was hope that Irvin would help boost the pass-rush and the defense.

“When they didn’t happen, I really had a lot respect,” Quinn said. “He said, I’m here to fight and he loves being back here at home. ... He played close to the vision that I thought that he would.”

The Falcons know they must fix their offensive line, which saw six different starting lineups and six different players to start at the guard position.

The season-opening lineup of left tackle Jake Matthews, left guard Andy Levitre, center Alex Mack, right guard Brandon Fusco and right tackle Ryan Schraeder played only two games together.

The Falcons will look for help in free agency and the draft.

“You look at what’s out there potentially talent-wise, and we compare where the values may be,” Dimitroff said. “Interestingly enough there are strengths and areas that we may be looking at both in free agency and the draft.

“We have to be very mindful of what we can take as far as the money that we have or potentially have because we have a legit payroll here of course, and we’ll have to continue to make decisions on that as well pertaining to how we approach free agency, if we can afford certain people and where we think the value is going to be on the youth side of things.”

Re-setting the roster is not real simple.

“It’s complicated,” Dimitroff said.

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