There has been speculation all winter about the Atlanta Falcons and Lamar Jackson, but head coach Arthur Smith is ready to back his second-year pro Desmond Ridder much to the chagrin of national pundits.
“We expect Desmond to take the next step,” Smith said as reported by Orlando Ledbetter on Twitter.
He would not comment about Lamar Jackson. “We are going to talk about our own players,” Smith said.
The Falcons have been active in free agency, but still have plenty of room to make a splash at quarterback should they feel the need. Spotrac currently has the Falcons with $22.4 million of available-cap space, good for sixth in the NFL.
$22.4 million may not seem like enough to go after a player like Jackson, but remember at this time the last two seasons, the Falcons were over the cap trying to find ways to dump salary just so they could sign their draft picks.
That said, just because the Falcons could make a move, doesn’t mean they will.
Sure Jackson would be a thrilling player and an immediate upgrade over Ridder, and most quarterbacks, but the Falcons roster isn’t in a position where they can afford to dump so many resources into a quarterback.
Jackson’s cap number would be similar to what the Falcons had with Matt Ryan the last several seasons, and it would take two first-round picks to get him.
The ability to add to the roster in free agency and a pair of high picks would hamper the rebuild that began in earnest at the beginning of this month when the free agency period opened.
Smith isn’t one to make declarations about players and their status on the team. It could be a bargaining ploy while they look at other players, including Jackson.
But it doesn’t feel that way.
It feels like Desmond Ridder is QB1 for the Atlanta Falcons.