Bradley’s Buzz: The Falcons won’t be good, which isn’t all bad

060922 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks Marcus Mariota, left, and Desmond Ridder are shown during OTA at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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060922 Flowery Branch: Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks Marcus Mariota, left, and Desmond Ridder are shown during OTA at the Atlanta Falcons Training Facility Thursday, June 9, 2022, in Flowery Branch, Ga. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

The Falcons open training camp next week. They’re without Matt Ryan for the first time since 2007. That they were 7-10 last season is a warning flare. They were 7-2 in one-score games. NFL teams that win a disproportionate number of close games are apt to backslide.

If the Falcons backslide significantly, they might gain the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft. In the grand scheme, that’d be dandy. They’re rebuilding, which takes time and patience. It also takes luck. Next year’s draft figures to be heavier on quarterbacks than was 2022′s, which saw the Falcons take Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati in Round 3.

ESPN has assessed NFL teams’ future fortunes. The Falcons finished 32nd. The NFL has 32 clubs. They ranked last regarding quarterbacks, 30th for the remainder of their roster, 29th as a front office. They’re 17th in coaching, which says something for Arthur Smith, who bled seven wins from a team outscored by 146 points, and Dean Pees, the 72-year-old defensive coordinator.

On Thursday, the Falcons put linebacker Deion Jones on the PUP (physically unable to perform) list due to post-surgical shoulder rehab. Given that Jones carries a cap hit of $38 million over the next two seasons – this according to Spotrac – the optimum course would be for him to exit PUP and get traded.

Per DraftKings, the Falcons’ over/under on wins is five games. Only Houston, which dumped Deshaun Watson on Cleveland, is expected to fare worse. Not since 2007, when Michael Vick was under federal indictment, has this team approached a season with hopes so low. This time, though, the Falcons are bad by design.

The Braves just won the World Series. The Hawks made the Eastern Conference finals in 2021. We around here have seen rebuilds bear fruit. This correspondent believes Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot know what they’re doing. They just need time to do it.

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About Kirby Smart’s contract

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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes the stage for his press conference at SEC Media Days with 2021 National Champions flashing on the screen in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes the stage for his press conference at SEC Media Days with 2021 National Champions flashing on the screen in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta.   (Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

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Georgia head coach Kirby Smart takes the stage for his press conference at SEC Media Days with 2021 National Champions flashing on the screen in the College Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday, July 20, 2022, in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com

His new deal with Georgia calls for him to make $112.5 million through 2031. This tells us two things. First, that his alma mater hugely values his services. Second, that UGA has anticipated a day when Nick Saban, who’s 70, steps down and Alabama will be forced to throw money at somebody to replace the GOAT.

Having apprenticed under Saban in Tuscaloosa, Smart would be an obvious choice. With this contract, though, he’s making more than Saban. Smart has to believe there’s nothing he could do at Bama he isn’t already doing at Georgia.

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About the Braves and the trade deadline

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10/23/21 - Atlanta - Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, left, and manager Brian Snitker celebrate the BravesÕ 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the World Series in game 6 at the National League Championship Series at Truist Park, Saturday October 23, 2021, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

10/23/21 - Atlanta - Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, left, and manager Brian Snitker celebrate the BravesÕ 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the World Series in game 6 at the National League Championship Series at Truist Park, Saturday October 23, 2021, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

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10/23/21 - Atlanta - Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos, left, and manager Brian Snitker celebrate the BravesÕ 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Dodgers to advance to the World Series in game 6 at the National League Championship Series at Truist Park, Saturday October 23, 2021, in Atlanta. Curtis Compton / curtis.compton@ajc.com

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

It falls on Aug. 2. It would be a shock if the Braves do nothing. Alex Anthopoulos believes it’s a GM’s duty to show his players that management is working hard to make the club better. There’s always room for another reliever, though we might keep our eye on Blake Burkhalter, taken 76th overall in this week’s draft. He was the closer for Auburn’s College World Series team. He might be on the big-league roster before September, which would make him October-eligible.

I wouldn’t, however, expect a major trade. They can’t acquire Adam Duvall, which they’ve done twice over the past four deadlines; he’s already a Brave. The price for the Reds’ Luis Castillo, the best starting pitcher who figures to be available, will be a boatload of prospects. This draft saw the Braves begin to repopulate their farm system, which was gutted by the Matt Olson deal.

The difference between winning the National League East and finishing as a wild card is lesser now. There’s no more play-in game. All three wild cards get a best-of-three series. (The league’s No. 1 seed draws a Round 1 bye, but that figures to be the Dodgers, who hold a 6-1/2 game lead over the Braves.) Anthopoulos loaded up on outfielders last summer because he knew his team’s only playoff path was winning the East. There’s an alternate route this time.

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About Charles Barkley and LIV

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Charles Barkley will donate $1M to Miles College in Alabama

Charles Barkley will donate $1M to Miles College in Alabama

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Charles Barkley will donate $1M to Miles College in Alabama

He has been approached by LIV – backed by the Public Investment Fund, which is essentially the Saudi Arabia treasury – regarding some sort of gig with the nascent golf tour. The New York Post reports Barkley met with LIV’s Greg Norman at Pricci in our fair city. As we know, Barkley is the biggest name among Turner’s NBA commentary crew.

“In a perfect scenario, I would love to do both,” Barkley told Andrew Marchand of the Post. “I don’t know how Turner’s sponsors are going to feel about it. I know there’s going to be some blowback.”

LIV doesn’t have a conventional TV partner. It’s available on YouTube. Its chief announcer is Arlo White, who left NBC and its English Premier League broadcasts. It has been reported that David Feherty is leaving NBC for LIV.

Barkley again: “Between the number (Marchand) just mentioned ($10 million from Turner) and all my commercials … it would have to be some serious money thrown my way.”