Falcons running back Devonta Freeman rushes during against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the regular season finale Sunday, Dec. 29, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Freeman finished the season with just under 600 yards rushing.
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images
Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Falcons roster: Should they stay or go? 

After finishing 7-9, the Falcons are certain to do some roster juggling this offseason.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the team will start with that process after the Super Bowl.

Here’s a look at every player on the Falcons roster, with beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter’s opinion on whether he should stay or go:

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACKS

Matt Ryan (12 years) – Stay.

He missed a game for the first time since the 2009 season. He passed for 4,466 yards, 14 interceptions and 26 touchdowns. His 408 completions was tops in the NFL. Ryan played under duress as he was sacked a career-high 48 times. The Falcons also gave up 135 quarterback hits.

Matt Schaub (16) – Stay.

Threw for 460 yards in his only start. 

Matt Simms (3) – Go.

He’s on the roster as a formality.

Kurt Benkert (R) – Stay.

He could be heir-apparent to Schaub. 

RUNNING BACKS

Kenjon Barner (6) – Stay.

Barner added some life to the return game and returned a punt for a touchdown against Carolina. 

Devonta Freeman (6) – Go.

The Falcons were hoping that Freeman would return to form after two down seasons. Freeman, who missed two games because of a foot sprain, averaged a career-low 3.6 yards per carry. He averaged a paltry 46.9 yards per game as the Falcons’ rushing attack finished 30th in the league (85.1 yards per game). Freeman looked rusty early, but never got on track as the season progressed.

Brian Hill (3) – Stay. 

Hard-charging runner, who has improved immensely as a special catcher. Also, played a key role on special teams. 

Qadree Ollison (R) – Stay. 

Ran well in limited short-yardage situation. Could be the bruising-type running that could help to power the offense. 

Ito Smith (2) – Stay.

Suffered a neck injury while blocking in pass protection. Needs to learn how to cut block. He’s too small to take on a linebacker up high.

Keith Smith (6) – Stay. 

He was a solid lead blocker and short-yardage option. Brian Hill was productive in a limited role. Rookie Qadree Ollison played well in spot duty and scored four short-yardage touchdowns. He also led the special-teams units with eight tackles and two forced fumbles. 

RECEIVERS

Christian Blake (1) – Stay.

He’s a tough customer on special teams. 

Russell Gage (2) – Stay.

Made major strides last season. Could be effected as the slot receiver.  

Justin Hardy (5) – Go. 

Tough special-teams player, who had not been a major factor in the passing attack. 

Julio Jones (9) – Stay. 

The dynamic Jones played in 15 games and finished six yards short of his fourth consecutive 1,400-yard season. He caught 99 of his 157 targets for 1,394 yards and six touchdowns. Jones’ 8.9 yards per target number were the lowest of his career.

Brandon Powell (2) – Go. 

The need to make room for one of the rookies who likely will be taken in the draft, which is historically strong at the position. 

Calvin Ridley (2) – Stay. 

He caught 63 of 93 targets for 866 yards and seven touchdowns, but missed the final three games with a stomach injury.

Olamide Zaccheaus (R) – Stay. 

Has the speed to take the top off of defenses. Played great in limited action. 

TIGHT ENDS

Jaeden Graham (1) – Stay.

Showed some promise as a receiver. 

Austin Hooper (4) – Stay.

He had career highs in catches (75), receiving yards (787) and touchdowns (six) in 13 games. He missed three games with a knee sprain. Re-signing him is the team’s top offseason priority, but he may be too pricey at $10 million per year. Luke Stocker was a valuable blocker, and Jaeden Graham showed some promise as a receiver. Hooper had only two drops on his 93 targets, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Luke Stocker (9) – Stay. 

A steady blocker, who can also play fullback. 

OFFENSIVE LINE

Jamon Brown, G (5) – Go

He was a major disappointment as a backup. 

James Carpenter, G (9) – Go 

He tried to battle through injuries, but this may be the end of the line for the former first-round pick.  

Matt Gono, T (2) – Stay. 

He needs to get a shot at left guard. He’s a battler and played well in limited action. 

Sean Harlow, G (2) – Go.

The former fourth-round pick has been hanging around, but unable to crack the 53-man roster on a steady basis. 

Chris Lindstrom, G (R) – Stay. 

The 14th overall draft pick in 2019 suffered a broken foot in the first game and missed 11 games. 

Alex Mack, C (11) – Stay. 

He played 1,182 snaps and is the glue that keeps the line together. He’s still one of the best in the business. 

Jake Matthews, T (6) – Stay. 

Struggled some early in the season before smoothing things out. He allowed eight sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Kaleb McGary, T (R) – Stay. 

As projected after the 2019 draft, he struggled in pass protection against elite speed. He played 1,128 offensive snaps and gave up 13 sacks, which was the most in the league among tackles, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Ty Sambrailo, T (5) – Stay. 

A solid backup swing tackle. 

Wes Schweitzer, G (4) – Go. 

Ended the season as starter at left guard. He’s set to become a free agent and there isn’t a lot of cash under the salary cap. 

John Wetzel, G (4) – Go.

He was a dependable backup, who provided some veteran depth. 

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE

Allen Bailey, DL (8) – Stay.

He was stout against the run. He played 521 (49.3%) snaps. 

Michael Bennett, DT (4) – Go. 

He spent most of the season on injured reserve. 

Adrian Clayborn, DL (8) – Stay.

He had four sacks and seven quarterback hits. 

John Cominsky, DE (R) – Stay. 

Promising prospect who played 102 snaps in a season marred by injury. 

Jack Crawford, DE (7) – Go.

He’s been steady, but not spectacular. He played 436 snaps (41.3%) last season. 

Tyeler Davison, DT (4) – Stay. 

He was strong against the run after coming over from the Saints. The Falcons have to save enough money to re-sign him. 

Grady Jarrett, DT (4) – Stay. 

He had a breakthrough season and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl and was named second-team All-Pro. 

Austin Larkin, DE (R) – Go. 

He flashed in the exhibition season and was brought back after the position was hit with injuries.

Takkarist McKinley, DE (3) – Stay. 

McKinley is another first-round pick (2017) who has yet to fulfill his promise as a pass rusher. He finished with 3.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits.

Steven Means, DE (6) – Stay.

Spent the season on injured reserve. He was stout and showed some pass rush in the 2018 season.

Deadin Senat, DT (1) – Go. 

Former third round pick, who was active for one game this season.

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, DT (R) – Stay. 

He played 188 snaps (17.8%) this season. He showed enough to bring back.

LINEBACKERS

Vic Beasley, LB (4) – Go. 

In the second half of the season, Beasley started to embrace using more than just his speed. He was moved from the left side to the right and finished with eight sacks.

De'Vondre Campbell, LB (3) – Stay.  

The rangy Campbell led the Falcons in tackles with 129. He rushed the passer, covered tight ends and took down running backs. The team has started preliminary discussions to re-sign Campbell, who was drafted in the fourth round (115th overall) in 2016 out of Minnesota and is set to become an unrestricted free agent in March. He wants to return. In addition to the tackle total, Campbell had two sacks, six tackles for losses, two quarterback hits, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

Deion Jones, LB (3) – Stay. 

He did not have as many splash plays, but he finished with 110 tackles.

Foyesade Oluokun, LB (1) – Stay. 

Oluokun played a major role in the defense’s mid-season turnaround. He finished with 56 tackles.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Ricardo Allen, FS/SS (5) – Stay.

He went to strong safety and did a credible job replacing Keanu Neal.

Jamal Carter, S (2) – Go.  

Got a shot when Neal went down, but the team quickly moved to Allen at strong safety. 

Chris Cooper, S (1) – Go. 

Dazzled in the exhibition season. 

Kemal Ishmael, DB (6) – Stay. 

Valuable special-teams player.

Damontae Kazee, CB/FS (2) – Stay. 

He was moved from nickel to free safety and helped to stabilize the pass defense.

Keanu Neal, SS (4) – Stay. 

He was lost in Game 3 to a ruptured Achilles. 

Sharrod Neasman, S (3) – Stay.

Dependable reserve and strong special-teams player.  

Isaiah Oliver, CB (2) – Stay. 

He’s a tall corner who in his first season as a starter, improved as the season progressed. Oliver received a porous 56.8 grade from Pro Football Focus. 

Kendall Sheffield, CB (R) – Stay.

He held his own outside and when he went inside to play nickel back. He has a promising future. 

Jamar Taylor, CB (6) – Go 

Was a late-season addition. 

Desmond Trufant, CB (7) – Stay.  

He was having his best season before breaking his forearm. 

Ahmad Thomas, FS (1) -- Go. 

Was a late-season addition to help with depth.

J.J. Wilcox, DB (7) – Stay. 

He was working with the first-team defense when he suffered a season-ending knee injury. 

Blidi Wreh-Wilson, CB (6) – Stay. 

He was was a dependable replacement at left cornerback. 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Ryan Allen, P (6) – Go

Did a credible job filling in for Bosher. 

Matt Bosher, P (9) – Stay.

Battled groin injuries. If healthy, he should be re-signed. 

Josh Harris, LS (7) – Stay. 

Pinpoint snapper. 

Younghoe Koo, K (2) – Stay. 

He will receive a tender offer, but will face some competition. 

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