Hodge gets a one-year deal with Atlanta.
Hodge, 27, originally signed with the Los Angeles Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2018.
Since then, he’s bounced around the league with stops at the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions. In fours seasons thus far, he has 30 receptions for 430 yards. He’s coming off a 2021 season that saw a career-high of 13 catches on 27 targets for 157 yards in Detroit.
Hodge joins a Falcons’ wide receiver room that currently has Frank Darby and Olamide Zaccheaus as their top targets.
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Falcons Tender Zacchaues
One day before free agency kicked off, the Falcons tendered Zaccheaus at the right-of-first-refusal number of $2.433 million. This means that Atlanta will have the right to match any offer Zaccheaus receives from any other team, but so far, it looks like he’s here to stay.
Zaccheaus joined the Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Virginia in 2019. He finished his rookie year with three receptions for 115 yards and a score. He also added two tackles and a fumble recovery for a touchdown on special teams. With the absence of Julio Jones, Zaccheaus saw his production increase in 2020 when he recorded had his first 100-yard game. Playing in a total of 11 games that year, he had 20 receptions for 274 yards and one touchdown.
But 2021 was Zaccheaus’ best season yet as he logged career-highs of 31 receptions for 406 yards and three touchdowns.
Darby Didn’t Go Unnoticed
The Falcons will be turning to second-year wide receiver Frank Darby for a bigger role this upcoming season.
Atlanta snagged Darby in the sixth round of 2021’s draft. He didn’t see hardly any playing time, even with Calvin Ridley’s absence, however, that was a part of the plan, according to ESPN’s Michael Rothstein.
While Ridley’s absence hurt the Falcons’ offense as a whole, Darby, personally, ended up benefiting from his early exit. He received more snaps in practice, thus getting more looks from coaches and some one-on-one time with former Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.
“I learn so much from him,” Darby told Rothstein. “He pulled me over to the side, and he’s like do this, this and that. Yeah, you see it on paper, but when it’s on the field, it’s different.”
He also told Rothstein that Ryan went out of his way to tell him, “Frank, you’re doing a hell of a job,” which instilled a boost of confidence in the young wideout.
Darby saw action in 10 games (0 starts) last season but recorded just one reception for 14 yards. But his limited playing time didn’t bother him––instead, it motivated him to do better.
“My whole motive was just keep working hard and someone will notice it,” Darby said. “I took each and every day like I’m always happy. I’m happy to be here, so why would I come in here with a bad attitude and everything and not go out there and perform how I’m supposed to perform?”
Now, with Ridley suspended for the 2022 season and Russel Gage heading to Tampa, Frank has an opportunity to be a ligament starter this year.