5 positions the Falcons must address this offseason
It's obvious that the Atlanta Falcons improved on both sides of the ball in 2015, but that doesn't mean there isn't work to be done still. The Falcons finished with an 8-8 record, but fell short of their postseason goal. The question is, what moves can they make this offseason in order to get themselves back into the playoffs?
With offensive weapons like Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman looking like they'll be the focal point in 2016, this doesn't mean that there aren't other offensive positions needing to be addressed. Let's jump right into it with the five positions the Falcons simply must address this offseason.
1. Defensive end/pass rusher
When you rank dead last in the NFL in sacks with 19, it's obvious that this is a major need. For comparison's sake, the Denver Broncos had the most sacks in the NFL with 52. That's a massive difference between two NFL teams. While Vic Beasley may be the answer in some form or fashion, it's still going to take an offseason of work to get the right group in the mix to get pressure on the quarterback. To top it off, both Adrian Clayborn and Kroy Biermann are set to be free agents. Will the Falcons go big in free agency and try to land someone like Jason Pierre-Paul or Muhammad Wilkerson if they don't re-sign? If not, a guy like Robert Ayers could be interesting to monitor.
2. Tight end
Since Tony Gonzalez retired, life for Matt Ryan just hasn't quite been the same. Yes, the Falcons have two great offensive weapons in Jones and Freeman, but they need to find the future at tight end. While Jacob Tamme deserves praise for his solid 2015 season, he's not the game changer who Ryan and this offense will be able to work through for many years to come. There isn't a ton of 2016 free agents at tight end, but a guy like Vernon Davis or Dwayne Allen could be interesting to watch.
While Ricardo Allen has shown some promise, William Moore is on the wrong side of 30 and didn't blow us away in 2015. While the Falcons did improve in pass defense this past year, safety may still be a main priority for them when all is said and done. Eric Berry is absolutely a name to watch, and he could be a perfect addition for what Quinn and this defense are looking to do.
4. Wide receiver
While the Falcons not only chose to part ways with Leonard Hankerson during 2015, they also have a situation to figure out with veteran receiver Roddy White. White has a cap hit of over $6 million this coming year, and we saw his production decrease quite a bit last season. It's not a sure thing that the team parts ways with White, but regardless, they need to find another playmaker at the position. They could take a chance on Percy Harvin potentially, but also watch the likes of Travis Benjamin and Rishard Matthews.
The Falcons have a few intriguing options like Paul Worrilow, O'Brien Schofield, Justin Durant and Brooks Reed. The problem is, those players are either failing to live up to expectations, or are getting older. Linebacker isn't a massive need, especially if the team can figure out which three linebackers will step up, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the Falcons make a move. Consider someone like Vincent Rey or Rolando McClain potentially.
*All salary cap information comes from Spotrac.com
Jeff Smith writes about the NFL for FOX Sports. You can find him on Twitter @JSM8ith.