Falcons Rumors

Largest 2024 Cap Hits: Offense

The NFL’s salary cap ceiling was expected to see a large increase this offseason, but estimates proved to be on the low side. A record-setting jump resulted in a cap of $255.4MM for teams to work with.

That has resulted in new waves of spending at a few positions, with quarterbacks and receivers seeing continued growth at the top of the market. Last offseason offered a strong chance of the league seeing at least one $40MM-plus cap charge, but the Browns avoided such a scenario with a Deshaun Watson restructure. Owing to that move – and the lack of further adjustments this spring – however, Watson’s financial impact is set to grow considerably this season.

Here are the league’s top cap charges on offense leading up to training camp:

  1. Deshaun WatsonQB (Browns): $63.77MM
  2. Dak PrescottQB (Cowboys): $55.13MM
  3. Matthew StaffordQB (Rams): $49.5MM
  4. Kyler MurrayQB (Cardinals): $49.12MM
  5. Daniel JonesQB (Giants): $47.86MM
  6. Patrick MahomesQB (Chiefs): 37.01MM
  7. Lamar JacksonQB (Ravens): $32.4MM
  8. Trent WilliamsLT (49ers): $31.57MM
  9. Tyreek HillWR (Dolphins): $31.32MM
  10. Josh AllenQB (Bills): $30.36MM
  11. Cooper Kupp, WR (Rams): $29.78MM
  12. Taylor MotonRT (Panthers): $29.75MM
  13. Joe BurrowQB (Bengals): $29.55MM
  14. Deebo SamuelWR (49ers): $28.63MM
  15. Chris GodwinWR (Buccaneers): $27.53MM
  16. Jared GoffQB (Lions): $27.21MM
  17. Joe ThuneyLG (Chiefs): $26.97MM
  18. Geno SmithQB (Seahawks): $26.4MM
  19. Laremy TunsilLT (Texans): $25.86MM
  20. Davante AdamsWR (Raiders): $25.35MM
  21. Quenton NelsonLG (Colts): $25.2MM
  22. Kirk CousinsQB (Falcons): $25MM
  23. Jawaan TaylorRT (Chiefs): $24.73MM
  24. D.K. Metcalf, WR (Seahawks): $24.5MM
  25. Christian KirkWR (Jaguars): $24.24MM

Watson’s figure will shatter the NFL record for the largest single-season cap charge if no adjustments are made in the coming weeks. The hits for Prescott, Murray, Stafford and Jones also would have set a new benchmark if not for the Browns passer, a sign of the QB market’s continued upward trajectory. Cleveland is set to remain in a similar situation for the next three years as Watson plays out his fully guaranteed $230MM deal.

Prescott’s future is one of several important questions the Cowboys need to answer relatively soon. With CeeDee Lamb and Micah Parsons due for second contracts, an extension for the three-time Pro Bowler will need to take into account future commitments. While Prescott has considerable leverage (via no-tag and no-trade clauses), he joins Jones in facing an uncertain post-2024 future in the NFC East.

The latter saw the Giants make an effort to trade up for a quarterback in April and he reacted in an understandable manner. Jones’ $40MM-per-year 2023 extension remains the dominant storyline surrounding the team, and a decision on retaining him or moving on will need to be made prior to a potential out early next offseason. Murray’s performance this fall will likewise be worth watching; he has received consistent praise from head coach Jonathan Gannon, but he will aim to put together a fully healthy season following 2023’s truncated campaign.

Stafford and the Rams have a mutual desire to continue their relationship, but he is seeking guarantees beyond the 2024 campaign. The 36-year-old’s representatives have been in discussion on a resolution during the offseason, although even in the absence of one a training camp holdout is not expected. The likes of Mahomes, Jackson and Allen retain a place in the top 25, and the same will no doubt be true of Burrow for years to come.

Of the receivers listed, only Hill is known to be actively pursuing a new deal. The 30-year-old once led the receiver market with a $30MM AAV, a figure inflated by non-guaranteed money at the end of the pact. With the bar having been raised to new heights this offseason, Hill could join teammate Jaylen Waddle in securing a new payday. Since the team has a Tua Tagovailoa extension on the horizon, however, Miami could hesitate on the Hill front.

It come as little surprise that Williams tops the list for offensive linemen. The 11-time Pro Bowler has been mentioned in retirement rumors before, but playing to age 40 is now a goal. Meeting it could require future contract adjustments. Samuel’s future in the Bay Area was a talking point this offseason as the team attempts to keep Brandon Aiyuk in the fold. One of the high-profile wideouts may be playing for a new team for the first time in their career in 2025.

Elsewhere along the O-line, Moton and Taylor demonstrate the value seen at the right tackle spot in recent years. Given the developments of the guard market this offseason, though, the likes of Thuney and Nelson will have competition for spots on the list in future years. Similarly, the non-Hill wideouts could easily be surpassed in the future with a further additions set to be made (particularly by Lamb, Aiyuk and Ja’Marr Chase) at the top of the ever-increasing market.

Goff joined the $50MM-per-year club on his third NFL deal, whereas Cousins continued to add to his impressive NFL earnings by joining the Falcons. If healthy, the latter could prove to be an effective pickup for a team aiming to return to the postseason (while quieting questions about a transition to Michael Penix Jr. under center). Smith also has plenty riding on this season with a new Seahawks coaching staff in place which incrementally arrived at the decision he will serve as the starter in 2024.

2024 Offseason In Review Series

As training camps near, the NFL offseason is winding down. Many unresolved matters remain — much of them pertaining to quarterbacks and wide receivers — but teams’ rosters are mostly set. Leading up to Week 1, PFR will continue to add to its annual Offseason In Review series. Here is where our latest offseason examinations stand so far:

AFC East

  • Buffalo Bills
  • Miami Dolphins
  • New England Patriots
  • New York Jets

AFC North

  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Cleveland Browns
  • Pittsburgh Steelers

AFC South

  • Houston Texans
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Tennessee Titans

AFC West

NFC East

NFC North

NFC South

  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers

NFC West

Cornerback Addition On Falcons’ Radar?

AJ Terrell resides as one of the NFL’s better corners, and an extension for the 2020 first-rounder is under consideration. Supplementing the Terrell-fronted position group may be as well.

As of now, the Falcons are planning to pit Mike Hughes and Clark Phillips in a matchup for the No. 2 cornerback post alongside slot Dee Alford. This competition could certainly determine if the team views it is a man short at this premium position. Although Hughes and Phillips were both Falcons regulars last season, a new coaching staff is calling the shots. The Falcons should “probably” be viewed as prepared to add a corner before or during training camp, The Athletic’s Josh Kendall writes (subscription required).

This is interesting due to the team having already added Antonio Hamilton, who spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals. Though, Hamilton is going into his age-31 season and operated as a part-time starter in Arizona. A former Vikings first-round pick, Hughes started four games last season. Phillips, a 2023 fourth-rounder, was a five-game starter. This array of Terrell sidekicks may prove sufficient, but Raheem Morris and DC Jimmy Lake eyeing more help would not surprise.

Pro Football Focus rated Hughes outside the top 100 among CB regulars last season while slotting Phillips 85th. Seeing more time on Atlanta’s perimeter in 2023, Jeff Okudah left for Houston in free agency. Okudah was among the many veteran corners to change teams this offseason, but a few longtime starters are still unsigned.

After three seasons as a Giants starter, Adoree’ Jackson is still available. The former first-rounder is going into what would be his age-29 season. One of this era’s premier ballhawks, Xavien Howard turned 31 last week. The nine-year Dolphin was also hit with a civil suit this offseason, though it would surprise if no team showed interest in a four-time Pro Bowler.

Patrick Peterson said recently he is staying ready ahead of what would be his 14th season, and 2019 Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore is unsigned. Peterson is 34, and Gilmore will turn 34 in September. Only two cornerbacks this decade — Josh Norman and Johnathan Joseph — have started a game at age 34 or older. The pedigrees of Peterson and Gilmore, however, will likely open the door to opportunities soon.

The Falcons passed on bolstering their pass defense in Round 1, choosing Michael Penix Jr. instead, though they attempted to trade back into the round for an edge defender. The team did not draft a corner. With big questions regarding Atlanta’s pass rush, it would stand to reason it will consider another move to bolster its coverage abilities.

Latest On Falcons QB Kirk Cousins

Much of the Falcons’ offseason quarterback approach has been dominated by the team’s decision to use a first-round pick on Michael Penix Jrdespite signing Kirk Cousins in free agency. The latter’s rehab from a torn Achilles remains a key storyline for the team, however.

[RELATED: Justin Jefferson Extension Affected Cousins’ Vikings Departure]

Cousins has provided encouraging updates throughout the offseason, and he remains on track to be at 100% with plenty of time to spare before Week 1. The 35-year-old took part in OTAs and minicamp, although in the absence of padded practices those events offer a limited opportunity to evaluate players’ true recovery progress. A target in advance of the preseason has emerged regarding when Cousins aims to be back to full strength.

The four-time Pro Bowler hopes to be recovered by August 1, as detailed by D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Cousins and the Falcons will no doubt proceed with caution once training camp opens later this month, and team and player have plenty of time to establish a training camp regimen. With Penix destined to begin his career as Cousins’ understudy, the latter should have first-team reps to himself when he is on the field during camp. Cousins is also interested in seeing preseason action, however.

“It feels like a long ways away,” the Michigan State product said. “But I think it’s always a great test to evaluate where we are as an offense, as a system. I would love to get in and play [in the preseason] if we can. We’ll have to see as we get there where we are. But, you know, it would be great to get out there and kind of have that full dress rehearsal.”

Pending how head coach Raheem Morris and the Falcons’ staff view Cousins’ progress, the team’s other signal-callers remain likely to see most (if not all) of the work during the preseason. Starters at many positions – including quarterback, especially in the case of veterans – rarely see playing time during exhibition games these days given the risk of injury. Cousins could use limited preseason action as a means of confirming his return to full health once he reaches that point during the summer, however.

Atlanta made a four-year investment in Cousins which includes $100MM in guarantees. The team’s financial commitment – not to mention the violation of the league’s tampering policies which took place after an agreement had been reached – demonstrates their willingness to improve from the Desmond RidderTaylor Heinicke setup under center. The latter member of that tandem is still in the fold, and he is likely to see preseason action this summer. It will be interesting to see if Cousins joins him in that respect.

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured GMs

The NFL’s general manager ranks featured some key shakeups this offseason. One of the longest-tenured pure GMs in the game, Tom Telesco, lost his Chargers seat 11 years in. The Raiders, however, gave Telesco a second chance. He now controls the Las Vegas roster. Only Telesco and the Jaguars’ Trent Baalke reside as second-chance GMs currently.

Two long-serving personnel bosses also exited this offseason. The Patriots’ decision to move on from 24-year HC Bill Belichick gave Jerod Mayo a head coaching opportunity but also resulted in Eliot Wolf belatedly rising to the top of the team’s front office hierarchy. A former Packers and Browns exec, Wolf held decision-making power through the draft and kept it on an official basis soon after. While John Schneider arrived in Seattle with Pete Carroll in 2010, the latter held final say. Following Carroll’s ouster after 14 seasons, Schneider has full control.

[RELATED: The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches]

The Commanders changed GMs this offseason, hiring ex-San Francisco staffer Adam Peters, but Martin Mayhew received merely a demotion. The three-year Washington GM, who worked alongside Peters with the 49ers, is now in place as a senior personnel exec advising Peters. Rather than look outside the organization, Panthers owner David Tepper replaced Scott Fitterer with Dan Morgan, who had previously worked as the team’s assistant GM.

Going into his 23rd season running the Saints, Mickey Loomis remains the NFL’s longest-serving pure GM. This will mark the veteran exec’s third season without Sean Payton. An eight-year gap now exists between Loomis and the NFL’s second-longest-tenured pure GM.

As the offseason winds down, here is how the league’s 32 GM jobs look:

  1. Jerry Jones (Dallas Cowboys): April 18, 1989[1]
  2. Mike Brown (Cincinnati Bengals): August 5, 1991[2]
  3. Mickey Loomis (New Orleans Saints): May 14, 2002
  4. John Schneider (Seattle Seahawks): January 19, 2010; signed extension in 2021
  5. Howie Roseman (Philadelphia Eagles): January 29, 2010[3]; signed extension in 2022
  6. Les Snead (Los Angeles Rams): February 10, 2012; signed extension in 2022
  7. Jason Licht (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 21, 2014; signed extension in 2021
  8. Chris Grier (Miami Dolphins): January 4, 2016[4]
  9. John Lynch (San Francisco 49ers): January 29, 2017; signed extension in 2023
  10. Chris Ballard (Indianapolis Colts): January 30, 2017; signed extension in 2021
  11. Brandon Beane (Buffalo Bills): May 9, 2017; signed extension in 2023
  12. Brett Veach (Kansas City Chiefs): July 11, 2017; signed extension in 2024
  13. Brian Gutekunst (Green Bay Packers): January 7, 2018; agreed to extension in 2022
  14. Eric DeCosta (Baltimore Ravens): January 7, 2019
  15. Joe Douglas (New York Jets): June 7, 2019
  16. Andrew Berry (Cleveland Browns): January 27, 2020: signed extension in 2024
  17. Nick Caserio (Houston Texans): January 5, 2021
  18. George Paton (Denver Broncos): January 13, 2021
  19. Brad Holmes (Detroit Lions): January 14, 2021: agreed to extension in 2024
  20. Terry Fontenot (Atlanta Falcons): January 19, 2021
  21. Trent Baalke (Jacksonville Jaguars): January 21, 2021
  22. Joe Schoen (New York Giants): January 21, 2022
  23. Ryan Poles (Chicago Bears): January 25, 2022
  24. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Minnesota Vikings): January 26, 2022
  25. Omar Khan (Pittsburgh Steelers): May 24, 2022
  26. Monti Ossenfort (Arizona Cardinals): January 16, 2023
  27. Ran Carthon (Tennessee Titans): January 17, 2023
  28. Adam Peters (Washington Commanders): January 12, 2024
  29. Dan Morgan (Carolina Panthers): January 22, 2024
  30. Tom Telesco (Las Vegas Raiders): January 23, 2024
  31. Joe Hortiz (Los Angeles Chargers): January 29, 2024
  32. Eliot Wolf (New England Patriots): May 11, 2024

Footnotes:

  1. Jones has been the Cowboys’ de facto general manager since former GM Tex Schramm resigned in April 1989.
  2. Brown has been the Bengals’ de facto GM since taking over as the team’s owner in August 1991.
  3. The Eagles bumped Roseman from the top decision-making post in 2015, giving Chip Kelly personnel power. Roseman was reinstated upon Kelly’s December 2015 firing.
  4. Although Grier was hired in 2016, he became the Dolphins’ top football exec on Dec. 31, 2018

The NFL’s Longest-Tenured Head Coaches

Following 2023’s five-team coaching carousel, this offseason featured a quarter of the jobs becoming available. One HC-needy team (New England) did not put its position on the market, promoting Jerod Mayo, but the rest did. The Patriots’ decision also produced the first shakeup among the league’s longest-tenured head coach list since 2013.

Since the Eagles fired Andy Reid, Bill Belichick‘s Patriots HC stint had run the longest. After a 4-13 season, the six-time Super Bowl-winning leader was moved out of the picture. No team hired Belichick, generating a wave of rumors, and only one (Atlanta) brought him in for an official interview. While Belichick should be expected to take at least one more run at a third-chance HC gig, Mike Tomlin rises into the top spot on this list.

Tomlin is going into his 18th season with the Steelers, and while he has surpassed Bill Cowher for longevity, the steady leader still has a ways to go to reach Chuck Noll‘s 23-season Pittsburgh benchmark. Tomlin, 52, enters the 2024 season 17-for-17 in non-losing seasons, separating himself from his predecessors in that regard.

Belichick’s ouster brought far more attention, but his Patriots predecessor also slid out of the HC ranks after a 14-year Seattle stay. Pete Carroll‘s third HC shot elevated the Seahawks to their franchise peak. No Hawks HC comes close to Carroll’s duration, and while the Super Bowl winner was interested in remaining a head coach, no team interviewed the 72-year-old sideline staple.

Belichick and Carroll’s exits leave only Tomlin, John Harbaugh and Reid as coaches who have been in place at least 10 years. With Mike Vrabel also booted this offseason, only eight HCs have held their current jobs since the 2010s. A few 2017 hires, however, stand out; Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay and Sean McDermott have now each signed multiple extensions. Now riding back-to-back Super Bowl wins, Reid joined Tomlin in signing an offseason extension.

Here is how the 32 HC jobs look for the 2024 season:

  1. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007; extended through 2027
  2. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008; extended through 2025
  3. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013; extended through 2029
  4. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017; extended through 2027
  5. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017; extended through 2027
  6. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017; extended through 2027
  7. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019: signed extension in July 2022
  8. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019; extended through 2026
  9. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  10. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020; signed offseason extension
  11. Robert Saleh (New York Jets): January 15, 2021
  12. Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions): January 20, 2021; extended through 2027
  13. Nick Sirianni (Philadelphia Eagles): January 21, 2021
  14. Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears): January 27, 2022
  15. Brian Daboll (New York Giants): January 28, 2022
  16. Kevin O’Connell (Minnesota Vikings): February 2, 2022
  17. Doug Pederson (Jacksonville Jaguars): February 3, 2022
  18. Mike McDaniel (Miami Dolphins): February 6, 2022
  19. Dennis Allen (New Orleans Saints): February 7, 2022
  20. Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): March 30, 2022
  21. Sean Payton (Denver Broncos): January 31, 2023
  22. DeMeco Ryans (Houston Texans): January 31, 2023
  23. Shane Steichen (Indianapolis Colts): February 14, 2023
  24. Jonathan Gannon (Arizona Cardinals): February 14, 2023
  25. Jerod Mayo (New England Patriots): January 12, 2024
  26. Antonio Pierce (Las Vegas Raiders): January 19, 2024
  27. Brian Callahan (Tennessee Titans): January 22, 2024
  28. Jim Harbaugh (Los Angeles Chargers): January 24, 2024
  29. Dave Canales (Carolina Panthers): January 25, 2024
  30. Raheem Morris (Atlanta Falcons): January 25, 2024
  31. Mike Macdonald (Seattle Seahawks): January 31, 2024
  32. Dan Quinn (Washington Commanders): February 1, 2024

Latest On LB Blake Cashman’s Free Agency

The Texans’ success on defense in 2023 led to a few members of that unit securing lucrative deals on the open market this spring. In the case of linebacker Blake Cashman, several interested parties emerged before he chose his next destination.

The 28-year-old inked a three-year, $22.5MM contract with his hometown Vikings in March. Considering Cashman primarily on special teams for three of his five seasons to date, the pact represents a notable windfall. Houston was interested in keeping him in the fold for 2024 and beyond, but the team expected a strong market to exist once Cashman was known to be available.

Going further on that note, the former fifth-rounder indicated (via Andrew Krammer of Minneapolis Star Tribune) that the Broncos, Packers, Falcons and Steelers showed interest in addition to the Texans prior to his Vikings agreement. Cashman is a veteran of 21 starts, 13 of which came last season. During DeMeco Ryans‘ debut campaign as Houston’s head coach, he shattered his career high in tackles (106) while adding a pair of sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery.

That production – along with the terms of his contract, which includes $15MM in total guarantees – will lead to high expectations for Cashman. Minnesota made a notable investment in another ex-Texan (edge rusher Jonathan Greenard) this offseason, and both players will be counted on to handle a starter’s workload on defense. For Cashman, that would have been the case on any new team considering the contract he landed.

Denver lost Josey Jewell in free agency, creating a linebacker vacancy which was filled (at least in part) by the addition of Cody Barton. Green Bay released De’Vondre Campbell in a cost-shedding move, but no outside move was made to replace him before Edgerrin Cooper‘s selection in the second round of the draft. Atlanta was quiet on the linebacker front this offseason, waiting until Day 3 of the draft to make a move (JD Bertrand). Pittsburgh made by far the most lucrative LB investment of the group by inking Patrick Queen to a three-year, $41MM deal.

The decisions made by the other teams interested in Cashman is a simple ‘what if’ matter at this point, of course. Still, it is notable he managed to generate enough of a market to draw interest from several teams after his strong showing in 2023. Repeating that performance moving forward will prove Minnesota’s investment in him to be worthwhile.

Extension Candidate: A.J. Terrell

A.J. Terrell has established himself as one of the league’s top young cornerbacks. The former first-round pick is set to enter the final year of his rookie contract in 2024, meaning he’s eyeing a lucrative pay day within the next 12 months. There’s no question that the Falcons want to re-sign their star cornerback to a long-term pact, with Josh Kendall of The Athletic expecting the organization to sign their star defensive back to an extension “before the negotiations get tense.”

There is a question of how much an impending extension will cost. Terrell has undeniably set himself up for a sizable contract. The former 16th-overall pick has started all 61 of his appearances through four NFL seasons, including a sophomore campaign where he earned All-Pro honors. He finished that season ranked as Pro Football Focus’ second-best cornerback, with the Clemson product compiling 81 tackles, 16 passes defended, and three interceptions.

Since that 2021 campaign, Terrell has failed to pull in an interception, and he finished the 2022 season ranked only 62nd at his position. He rebounded this past year (24th among 127 qualifiers), but he still finished the season without a pick while collecting a career-low 45 tackles.

In other words, Terrell can justify being one of the league’s highest-paid cornerbacks, but probably not the highest-paid cornerback. From an average-annual-salary perspective, that honor currently belongs to Jaire Alexander, who is making $21MM per year. Kendall suggests the Falcons should push for a $17MM AAV, which would put Terrell ninth at his position (but well above No. 10, Carlton Davis, at $14.8MM).

Even a sub-$20MM AAV would be a win for the organization. Fellow 2020 draft picks Trevon Diggs, L’Jarius Sneed, and Jaylon Johnson have all come in between $19MM and $20MM with their respective extensions, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Terrell is pushing for that range. The 2025 cornerback franchise tag is currently projected at $19.4MM (per OverTheCap.com), so that number could be a fair compromise between the two sides.

Terrell would headline the CB class if he somehow got to 2025 free agency. The non-first-round 2021 cornerbacks will also be hitting the market, a grouping that includes Tyson Campbell, Asante Samuel Jr., and Paulson Adebo. In the unlikely event that Terrell banks on a standout 2024 campaign (and succeeds), he could push for the Alexander/Denzel Ward/Jalen Ramsey tier at the position.

More likely, Terrell misses that mark but still signs a pricey extension with the Falcons. It sounds like the front office isn’t intending to drag out negotiations, which probably bodes well for Terrell’s chances of cracking the top-10 at his position. At the moment, the cornerback is attached to his $12.3MM fifth-year option, but he’ll likely add to that total before the 2024 campaign begins.

Latest On Falcons’ CB2 Competition

The Falcons have AJ Terrell entrenched as their top starting cornerback outside the numbers, but the competition for Atlanta’s other starting boundary CB job was one of the club’s key storylines in the spring. That battle will continue into training camp, as Josh Kendall of The Athletic details (subscription required).

One of the two primary combatants is Clark Phillips III, a 2023 fourth-rounder who flashed in his rookie campaign but who also dealt with the growing pains generally expected of a Day 3 rookie. In 11 games (five starts), Phillips yielded a fairly low QB rating of 88.8 and recorded five passes defensed, but Pro Football Focus assigned him a mediocre overall grade of 59.0, making him the 85th-best CB out of 127 qualified players. Kendall observes that Phillips’ struggles are at least partly due to his 5-9 stature, which does work against him in his efforts to earn a boundary gig.

Mike Hughes, meanwhile, is a former first-round pick of the Vikings who has never quite lived up to his draft status. He signed a two-year contract with the Falcons last March, making Atlanta his fourth team since turning pro in 2018. His first year with the club did not go particularly well, and he actually finished 21 spots below Phillips in terms of PFF grades. Most of his action came at the nickel, but with Dee Alford having impressed with his more extensive slot work last season, it seems that Hughes will have to return to a boundary role to maintain significant playing time.

Of course, the Falcons could still make an addition to the CB room, which Kendall does not rule out. He does not say that the team is actively looking to make such a move, though perhaps that will change if neither Hughes nor Phillips get out to a good start in training camp. Stephon Gilmore is one of the players who remains available on the free agent market.

Phillips got plenty of first-team reps during OTAs as Terrell dealt with a hamstring issue. As Amna Subhan of the Falcons’ official website writes, both Phillips and Hughes saw time with the starting defense during mandatory minicamp.

Hughes, now 27, is in a platform season and could position himself nicely for another multi-year deal if he can beat out his younger counterpart and perform well for what could be a playoff-bound club in 2024.

NFC Front Office Updates: Panthers, Falcons, Cardinals

The Panthers are one of several NFC teams who continue to make updates to their front office staff in recent days. Carolina made two moves and two new hires in this month.

The first move sees area scout Caden McCloughan move from the west coast to the southwest, per Neil Stratton of SucceedinFootball.com. He’s in his third year with the team since joining as a scouting intern in 2022. Joining McCloughan as an area scout is Kaleb Leach, who is getting promoted to northeast area scout for Carolina after also joining the team in 2022. Leach started as a scouting assistant after both playing and scouting in international football.

The two new hires are pro scout Adam Maxie and scouting assistant Gabby Weinrich. Maxie has NFL experience dating back t0 2017. He’s worked as a quality control coach with the Buccaneers, a scouting intern with the Vikings, and a pro scout with the Raiders. Weinrich takes Leach’s old position as scouting assistant. She attended scout school with the Jets in 2022 and worked as a training camp intern with the Bears the following year, all while working as a player personnel and recruiting assistant for the University of Nebraska. This will be her first full-time position in the NFL.

Here are a few other front office updates from around the NFC, starting with another NFC South squad:

  • The Falcons have promoted Nathan Ellis from scouting assistant to scouting coordinator, per Stratton. Previously a pro scouting intern for the Chargers for two summers, Ellis joined Atlanta as a scouting intern last summer, turning that time into a full-time gig at the start of the season. His previous full-time job was as a recruiting assistant/coordinator with the University of South Carolina.
  • The Cardinals made a number of moves to their scouting staff, as well, per Stratton. Chad Jenkins has been moved from NFS scout to area scout. Jenkins has been with the team since 2018 after some time at Tulane and Tennessee State. Stephen Wise will take Jenkins’ NFS scout role, moving from his role as a scouting assistant. Wise joined the team in 2021 after three years as a football recruiting assistant at South Carolina where he overlapped with Ellis for a few months. Andrew Ford will also get promoted from scouting assistant. Formerly a quarterback at UMass, he’ll now work as a pro scout for Arizona. Landon Grier has been hired to fill one of the two newly vacated scouting assistant roles. This will be Grier’s first job out of college after graduating from South Carolina.