The Atlanta Falcons have been snatching up top prospects more quickly and earlier in free agency and trade than they have in recent years. With the addition of Hayden Hurst, Dante Fowler, Laquon Treadwell and Todd Gurley, the Falcons now have 11 former first-round starters on offense.
Hurst will replace Austin Hooper, who agreed to a deal with the Cleveland Browns in March. Fowler will most likely step in to fill the De’Vondre Campbell void. Treadwell will add to the receivers’ depth chart, and Gurley will be coming home to start at tailback.
‘Best in the Business’
Ryan hasn’t been able to welcome any of his new teammates to Atlanta face-to-face due to the pandemic. But Ryan’s thoughts on the Falcons’ moves are important, and he’s excited, to say the least. He told King how cool it was to have Gurley coming back home.
“Very cool. Very cool. I think the people in the state of Georgia are going to love that too,” Ryan said. “Him coming back here, after having played college football here. He’s a special talent, there’s no question. Hopefully, we can keep him fresh and healthy, because if he is, he’s one of the best in the business and certainly a good pick up for us.”
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The Falcons let their star tight end, Hooper, hit the open market in hopes he would return to Atlanta. But the Browns picked him up before free agency even started. They signed him to a four-year, $42 million contract, making him the highest-paid tight end in the league. Hooper and Ryan formed a special bond over the years, so his absence will be missed.
“Well obviously, it’s disappointing from a personal standpoint,” Ryan said. “He’s a great teammate, great friend, but you’re also very happy for him because he deserves every penny. He’s worked extremely hard, he’s been extremely productive, he’s going to do a great job in Cleveland.”
After losing Hooper in free agency, the Falcons didn’t hesitate to find a replacement. They traded a 2020 second- and fifth-round pick for the former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher and ex-Ravens tight end Hayden Hurst, who also came along with a fourth-round pick.
Ryan is in agreeance that it was a good move but can’t wait to get to know his new teammates when quarantine is over.
“I think our trade for Hayden Hurst is going to benefit us,” Ryan said. “My hope is that when things calm down in terms of social distancing and people having to stay away from each other, we’ll have an opportunity to get together and try to get on the same page as fast as possible because I think he’s a talented player that can really help us. I also think we have to have some of our young guys like Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus – you know we picked up Laquon Treadwell, those are guys that we’re going to have to see how they fit into the scheme for us to create some of that production that we lost with Austin Hooper.”