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IDP Off-Season Outlook: NFC South

We take a deep dive into the state of each defense in the NFC South.

The DLF IDP team is going around the league to look at each team's rosters, moves, and needs heading into the closing stages of free agency. We hope this exercise will provide you with valuable information for off-season moves and startup drafts.

ATLANTA FALCONS

SALARY CAP SITUATION

Much has been made of the Falcons' salary cap over the last month. Understandably so. They took on a $40.5m dead cap hit by trading Matt Ryan, the largest such figure in NFL history.

The salary cap struggles don't end there for Atlanta in 2022. Julio Jones is due $15m, and Dante Fowler Jr. $4.7m. The Falcons have by far the largest total dead cap amount.

It's easy and just to criticize the Falcons for the management of their cap space. However, they deserve at least a little credit for making bold moves rather than limping along in a state of mediocrity. They haven't had a winning season since 2017. The roster was devoid of talent in several key positions. They needed to do something big, and they've done just that.

COACHING STAFF

Dean Pees remains the defensive coordinator. The 72-year-old unretired last year to return to coaching in 2021, and there must be a part of him that wishes he hadn't. The Falcons' defense struggled to say the least.

The blame for the defensive performance cannot entirely be placed at Pees' feet. The talent on the defensive unit is lacking. I'll get into that in more detail when looking at positional units below.

Pees' scheme favors a rotation on the defensive line – with one exception (Grady Jarrett) and two full-time off-ball linebackers. We can expect more of the same in 2022.

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE

Grady Jarrett played 864 snaps, ranking fifth among all NFL players on the defensive interior in that category. That level of opportunity was the only positive fantasy takeaway from his season.

Unfortunately, Jarrett didn't play nearly as well as he has in the past. His 6.8% pressure rate was his lowest in the last six years. He has something to prove in 2022 before he can once again be considered a solid interior defensive lineman in IDP formats.

Five other players had between 250 and 360 snaps on the defensive interior. As a result, none of them were fantasy relevant. I expect that situation to continue into 2022.

EDGE

Sorry Falcons fans, but this unit was dire in 2022. The team had high hopes for Dante Fowler, but he was disappointing for the second consecutive year. Adetokunbo Ogundeji was also poor, and Steven Means had no business playing 693 snaps.

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IDP Off-Season Outlook: NFC South
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