Las Vegas Raiders 2020 Opponent Review: Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons additions and subtractions
The Falcons had a very busy offseason. The biggest move though possibly could have been what they lost. The Falcons have had a highly potent offense in recent years, and lost a major piece to that offense in tight end Austin Hooper.
Hooper was awarded a huge contract by the Cleveland Browns at a price the Falcons could not match. The two-time Pro Bowler had been a key target for Matt Ryan in recent years and will be sorely missed.
Replacing Hooper will be Hayden Hurst. Acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens, the former first round pick had fallen down the pecking order, and was the second tight end in the Ravens offense behind Mark Andrews. With a bigger role, he will look to replace Hooper, a task he may or may not be up for.
Another key player, or not so key player in this case is Vic Beasley. Beasley had led the NFL in sacks in 2016, but he has failed to live up to the lofty expectations he had set for himself. The Falcons did not re-sign him, and he signed a free agent deal with the Tennessee Titans.
In his place, the Falcons signed Dante Fowler. The pass rusher was a former top-five pick, and is someone who has had an up and down career until 2019, when he had 11 sacks for the Los Angeles Rams. He will look to continue this momentum in Atlanta and will be one for the Raiders offensive line to keep an eye on.
The Falcons also replaced another Pro Bowl player in running back Devonta Freeman. Freeman, a former two-time pro bowler like Hooper, had his fair share of moments, but also more than that, his fair share of injuries. After signing a massive deal in 2017, the Falcons released the oft-injured back this offseason.
In the place of Freeman, this could be possibly the riskiest or rewarding free agent deal in the 2020 offseason. That would be the signing of Todd Gurley. Gurley, who will be 26-years-old at the start of the season, is back in the state of Georgia where he played his college ball. This is a peculiar signing for the fact we do not what to expect from Gurley.
The former two-time All-Pro has been one of the best running backs in football over the last few seasons. The talent is not the issue. Like Freeman, it is his health.
Gurley was diagnosed with arthritis in his knee, and with this diagnosis became used less and less in the Rams offense in 2019. After being cut by the Rams, he immediately signed on a one-year, $5.5 million contract. The deal looks like it could be a low-risk, high-reward situation for the Falcons, or it could blow up in their face.
We will have to find out Week 12 if Gurley will be a problem for the Raiders, or for that matter, even on the field.
The Falcons also cut former first round pick and cornerback Desmond Trufant. In his place, the Falcons used their first round pick on cornerback A.J. Terrell out of Clemson. Hopefully the Raiders can exploit the young corner come Week 12.