Jun 7, 2022; Renton, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (7) and quarterback Drew Lock (2) return to the locker room following  minicamp practice at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

QB Competitions: Seahawks’ Geno Smith favored in NFL’s tightest battle

The majority of the 32 starting quarterback jobs have been settled early in training camps across the NFL, with only four legitimate competitions still being waged.

Of those, who replaces Russell Wilson under center in Seattle remains the tightest race among oddsmakers.

Geno Smith, who is entering his fourth season with the Seahawks, is the -175 favorite by SportsBetting.ag to start Week 1 at quarterback. He is battling Drew Lock (+135), who was acquired in the Wilson trade over the offseason.

Although Smith has spent more time with the starting unit thus far in training camp, neither quarterback has particularly impressed ahead of the first preseason game. And coach Pete Carroll has declined to outline the team’s plan for splitting repetitions during camp.

“Any time that I’m standing behind the center and I get to call out a cadence that’s the most important rep of my life, right then and there,” Lock told reporters earlier this week. “I compete with everything I’ve got, every single play.

“We’ll let time evolve and see where it goes from there.”

The second-closest race is in Pittsburgh, where veteran backup Mason Rudolph isn’t even in the picture as far as the oddsmakers are concerned. The sportsbook is offering free-agent addition Mitchell Trubisky as the -250 favorite over rookie first-round pick Kenny Pickett (+175).

Meanwhile, something major would have to transpire to change the trajectory of who is poised to kick off the season as the starter in Atlanta and Carolina. Marcus Mariota is in line to start for the Falcons and recently acquired Baker Mayfield is set with the Panthers.

Week 1 Starting QB Odds
Seattle Seahawks
–Geno Smith -175
–Drew Lock +135

Pittsburgh Steelers
–Mitchell Trubisky -250
–Kenny Pickett +170

Carolina Panthers
–Baker Mayfield -1500
–Sam Darnold +600

Atlanta Falcons
–Marcus Mariota -1200
–Desmond Ridder +550

–Field Level Media

Sep 12, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) attempts a pass as Houston Texans defensive tackle Vincent Taylor (96) defends during the game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons DT Vincent Taylor (Achilles) out for season

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Vincent Taylor will miss the 2022 season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon, coach Arthur Smith said Tuesday.

Taylor’s injury occurred during practice Monday.

The Falcons signed Taylor, 28, to a one-year, $1.19 million ($275,000 guaranteed) free-agent deal in April.

Heading into his sixth NFL season, Taylor was expected to be a significant part of the defensive line, working with Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham and Anthony Rush as major contributors.

This is the second significant injury for Taylor over the past two seasons. He hurt his ankle in the 2021 season opener while playing for the Houston Texans and missed the remainder of the season.

Before going to the Texans, Taylor played for the Cleveland Browns (2020), Buffalo Bills (2019) and Miami Dolphins (2017-18), where he was a sixth-round draft pick in 2017 out of Oklahoma State.

In 40 NFL games (two starts), Taylor has 65 tackles and two sacks.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2022; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterbacks Marcus Mariota (1) and Desmond Ridder (4) talk on the field during training camp at IBM Performance Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons’ QB plan: Start Marcus Mariota, play Desmond Ridder

He knows the coach, the system and the league, so it’s no great surprise Marcus Mariota opened Atlanta Falcons training camp as the only quarterback working with the first-team offense.

Rookie Desmond Ridder was informed by head coach Arthur Smith in April that the Falcons plan to open with Mariota and take it from there, allowing Ridder to observe and develop at his pace — barring an injury to Mariota.

“It’s a great opportunity for me to prove to myself,” said Mariota. “I feel very comfortable. Being around Art for all that time in Tennessee, I think that’s where it comes from. For the most part, I feel really comfortable and confident.”

For the first time since Matt Ryan was drafted No. 3 overall in 2008, the Falcons enter a season looking for the right answer at quarterback.

Falcons quarterbacks coach Charles London erased doubt about the depth chart on Wednesday when he declared Mariota the starter.

“Obviously, we’ve got a plan for each of them. Marcus is the starter,” London said. “That’s how we’re going into this thing.”

Part of that decision is taking time to measure Ridder’s progress. Ridder said the system “just came to me” even though he expected to struggle to translate the NFL playbook in his first season.

Smith, who coached Mariota with the Titans and benched him in 2019 in favor of Ryan Tannehill, said the plan is subject to constant review.

“Marcus has been in Coach’s Smith system before, so he knows a lot more,” said Ridder, the 74th overall pick in the 2022 draft. “I am really trying to learn from him, and learn about how he goes about learning the game plan and learning how we do things each and every week.”

Mariota has experience, but rust might also play a factor in where he stands this summer. He logged 89 snaps in the only two NFL seasons (of seven) he spent with the Raiders and without Smith. Mariota’s last NFL start was in October 2019.

Ridder shocked Smith with his approach to the playbook, film study and general preparation in the offseason. Smith said last month that Ridder isn’t a typical rookie in many ways.

“Behind the scenes, the things that he has done, as a rookie, really from the neck up,” Smith said. “How he’s operating, when we’re doing the rookie walk-throughs, when we do these installations and on the field, and his command. Then you’re betting on some of the physical things you see at times to catch up. He’s light years ahead of most young quarterbacks, in terms of playing from the neck up.”

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2022; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith on the field during Minicamp at the Falcons Training Complex. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Going Camping: Atlanta Falcons

A year after turning the page on the Julio Jones era, the Atlanta Falcons moved on from Matt Ryan, signifying the team entered a full rebuild.

Of course, Falcons head coach Arthur Smith has his sights set higher than on a strict youth project, and the team has done some work to give him a roster to work with heading into the start of training camp Tuesday.

Ultimately, 2022 may be more about the financial reset that comes with getting Ryan’s deal off the books and general improvement.

Training camp location: Flowery Branch, Ga.
Atlanta Falcons Training Facility
Rookie report date: July 19
Veteran report date: July 26

Key acquisitions: QB Marcus Mariota, RB Damien Williams, CB Casey Hayward, DE Lorenzo Carter, LB Rashaan Evans

Key losses: QB Matt Ryan, LB Foyesade Oluokun, WR Russell Gage, TE Hayden Hurst, DE Dante Fowler, CB Fabian Moreau

By many early accounts, the Falcons might have found a keeper in the draft with third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder. But even if Ridder wins the job as a rookie, he still doesn’t expect to provide the down-to-down consistency Ryan did for 14 NFL seasons. Those are big shoes to fill.

And Atlanta doesn’t look better on paper much of anywhere else, either, as the team has fully jumped into rebuild mode now that Ryan has been traded away.
Calvin Ridley is suspended, which isn’t the best news, though that could open the door for rookie Drake London to make an immediate impact. He’ll pair with returning utility man Cordarrelle Patterson and tight end Kyle Pitts to give Atlanta juice on offense.

Deion Jones leads the defense, but he’ll need some help. Perhaps rookie linebackers Arnold Ebiketie and Troy Andersen will be ready to contribute right away.

Saints at Falcons, 1 p.m. ET
Line: Saints -5.5 (FanDuel)
Total: 41.5 points

The Falcons lead the all-time series 54-52, and they did win in New Orleans last season (27-25 on Nov. 7), but the Saints won the rematch on Jan. 9 and have taken seven of the last nine.

The Falcons have fallen from the No. 13 scoring offense in 2019, down to No. 16 in 2020, all the way down to No. 26 last year … and that was with Ryan quarterbacking the offense. Taking a flier on Atlanta to drop all the way to last in the league with Mariota and/or Ridder taking snaps might be the kind of guess that pays off, especially with some sportsbooks offering +1300.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears nose tackle Eddie Goldman (91) stands on the sidelines in the second half against the New York Giants at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kena Krutsinger-USA TODAY Sports

DT Eddie Goldman tells Falcons he’s retiring

Veteran defensive tackle Eddie Goldman informed the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday that he is retiring.

Goldman, 28, signed a one-year, $1.2 million deal with Atlanta earlier this month after playing six seasons with Chicago.

He recorded 22 tackles in 14 games (10 starts) with the Bears in 2021 after opting out of 2020 amid the pandemic.

A second-round draft pick in 2015 out of Florida State, Goldman had 175 tackles, 13 sacks and two fumble recoveries in 81 games (73 starts).

–Field Level Media

Dec 26, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers punter Bradley Pinion (8) punts against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons sign P Bradley Pinion

The Atlanta Falcons signed Bradley Pinion to a contract on Thursday, just over one week after the punter was released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed by the Falcons.

Pinion, 28, is expected to battle Dom Maggio and Seth Vernon for the job in Atlanta.

Pinion averaged a career-low 42.5 yards per kick last season with the Buccaneers.

Pinion spent his first four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers after the team selected him with a fifth-round pick during the 2015 NFL Draft.

He signed with the Buccaneers as an unrestricted free agent in 2019 before being released on June 22, nearly two months after Tampa Bay selected Georgia punter Jake Camarda in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 15, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Bryan Edwards (89) reacts after moving the ball forward against the Cincinnati Bengals in the second half in an AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Raiders trade WR Bryan Edwards to Falcons

The Las Vegas Raiders traded wide receiver Bryan Edwards to the Atlanta Falcons, multiple outlets reported Friday.

The Raiders also sent a 2023 seventh-round pick to Atlanta in exchange for a 2023 fifth-round selection.

Edwards, 23, caught 34 passes for 571 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games (12 starts) last season.

A third-round pick out of South Carolina in 2020, he had 11 catches for 193 yards and one TD in 12 games (three starts) in his rookie season.

The Raiders still have plenty of targets for quarterback Derek Carr. They acquired All-Pro wideout Davante Adams in a trade with the Green Bay Packers in March, while Hunter Renfrow is coming off a 103-catch, 1,038-yard season in 2021. Tight end Darren Waller has 252 receptions for 3,006 yards in the past three seasons.

The Falcons are trying to make up for the loss of receiver Calvin Ridley, suspended for the 2022 season for betting on NFL games. Atlanta took Southern California’s Drake London with the No. 8 overall pick in last month’s draft.

–Field Level Media

Dec 17, 2020; Paradise, Nevada, USA; Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) runs the ball against Las Vegas Raiders inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (44) during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Falcons to sign ex-Raiders LB Nick Kwiatkoski

The Atlanta Falcons agreed to sign former Las Vegas Raiders linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski to a free-agent contract, NFL Media reported Thursday.

Despite a reported visit with the Raiders earlier this week, the six-year veteran will join the Falcons on a one-year deal.

Kwiatkoski, who turns 29 in two weeks, played just eight games in the 2021 season because of an ankle injury. It marked the first time in his six seasons he did not start a game.

In 2020 Kwiatkoski had a career-high 81 tackles for the Raiders, adding a sack and interception in his 12 starts — also a career best.

Originally a fourth-round pick in 2016 out of West Virginia by Chicago, Kwiatkoski spent his first four NFL seasons with the Bears.

In his 77 career games (34 starts), Kwiatkoski has 286 tackles, seven sacks and two interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Atlanta Falcons defensive end Grady Jarrett (97) prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Falcons’ Grady Jarrett agrees to 3-year extension

Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett agreed to a three-year extension worth up to $51 million with $34.5 million in guarantees, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday.

Jarrett, 29, is now signed through the 2025 season. He had one year remaining on his previous contract.

A two-time Pro Bowl selection, Jarrett recorded 59 tackles and one sack in 17 games (all starts) last season.

He has 359 tackles, 26.5 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in 110 career games (95 starts). The Falcons selected Jarrett in the fifth round of the 2015 NFL Draft and he has only missed three games in seven seasons.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Mike Davis (28) prior to the game against the Buffalo Bills at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Falcons to release veteran RB Mike Davis

The Atlanta Falcons are set to release veteran running back Mike Davis in a move that will save the team $2.5 million against the salary cap, according to reports on Monday.

Davis, 29, rushed for 503 yards and three touchdowns in 17 games (eight starts) for the Falcons in 2021. He also caught 44 passes for 259 yards and a score.

Davis has rushed for 2,034 yards and 14 TDs in 79 games (30 starts) for five different teams. He started his career with the San Francisco 49ers after they selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 draft.

–Field Level Media