3 Moves the Falcons Can Make to Save Dan Quinn's Job Beyond Next Season

Max Staley
Dan Quinn will return as the Falcons' head coach in 2020.
Dan Quinn will return as the Falcons' head coach in 2020. / Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

For a team coming off a 7-9 season, the Atlanta Falcons entered the year with a ton of hype. The bounce-back season never really materialized though, as the Falcons jumped out to a 1-7 start prior to their Week 9 bye.

Since then, Atlanta has quietly turned it around, winning five of its next seven games. This recent run likely saved Dan Quinn's job, as the team announced he's coming back in 2020.

Still, it's tough to envision Quinn retaining his job if the Falcons post a third-straight losing season next year, so this team will have to make some significant improvements in the offseason. With that in mind, here are three moves Atlanta can make to help save Quinn's job beyond 2020.

1. Free Up Cap Space by Moving Off Some Big Contracts

Desmond Trufant recorded four interceptions this season.
Desmond Trufant recorded four interceptions this season. / Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

The Falcons are currently in the red, as they're about $2.1 million over the cap, per Spotrac.com. There aren't many quick fixes available, but Atlanta could look to ship out someone like Desmond Trufant, who signed a 5-year, $68.7 million deal back in 2018. Trufant was ProFootball Focus' 34th-highest rated corner this season, so there should be some interest if he's made available, and trading him could free up some much-needed cap space. Atlanta has quite a few holes, and most of its money is tied up in a few top-tier players. Creating some extra flexibility should hopefully allow the Falcons to begin addressing those needs.

2. Sign or Draft Some Pass-Rushers

Grady Jarrett has 6.5 sacks this season.
Grady Jarrett has 6.5 sacks this season. / Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Grady Jarrett is a beast on the interior of the defensive line, but outside of him, Atlanta has struggled to generate a consistent pass rush. Things have picked up a bit recently, but the Falcons' pass-rushing unit still generated the fourth-lowest sack percentage (5.0), and had the sixth-fewest QB hits (67) on the year. With the Falcons currently slotted to pick in the middle of the first round, someone like Iowa's A. J. Epenesa could give this unit a boost. The cap-strapped Falcons could also let Vic Beasley (8.0 sacks in 2019) walk in free agency, so signing a low-cost replacement like Jabaal Sheard could work as well.

3. Sign or Draft Some Help in the Secondary

Keanu Neal tore his Achilles in Week 3.
Keanu Neal tore his Achilles in Week 3. / Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Keanu Neal is essentially a microcosm for what the Falcons have been over the last two seasons – wildly talented, yet unlucky and riddled with injuries. Neal is a dominant force when healthy, but he tore his ACL in 2018, and had his season cut short in 2019 when he tore his Achilles. Given his recent injury history, he's not a surefire bet to be healthy again in 2020 either, and Atlanta's secondary needs quite a few upgrades. The Falcons ranked in the bottom 10 in passing touchdowns allowed (26), opposing passers' yards per attempt (7.7) and passing yards allowed per game (248.3). Drafting someone like LSU's Kristian Fulton could help give this unit a boost, though a low-cost gamble on a player like Aqib Talib or Ronald Darby could make sense as well.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.