6 Atlanta Falcons Players Most Positively Affected By 2023 Free Agency Signings

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
4 of 6
Richie Grant
Atlanta Falcons v Cincinnati Bengals / Justin Casterline/GettyImages

S Richie Grant

Key Moves that help:

  • Bringing in Jerry Gray as Assistant HC/Defense and promoting Steve Jackson to defensive backs coach
  • Signing S Jessie Bates III

The Atlanta Falcons needed Richie Grant to step up his game in 2022 from what it was as a rookie, and he made a jump from a backup-caliber player to an average starter at safety. But that's not enough. Players aren't taken in the second round to just be league-average starters. They are taken in the second round to be impactful players that help win games with clutch moments. Grant had a couple of those in 2022, but adding Jerry Gray and Steve Jackson to the defensive coaching staff will make a tremendous difference in his growth as a player.

Gray was a cornerback when he played, but has coached both cornerbacks and safeties throughout his NFL career when he wasn't in charge of a defense as a whole. Jackson was the defensive backs coach with the Bengals while Jessie Bates III was getting developed into one of the top safeties in the league. Having them as mentors and coaches should really help the Falcons get the most out of the promising Grant and help him take his third year to the next level. Speaking of Bates, he was brought into the Falcons this offseason to be that deep safety and take pressure off of Grant.

With Bates in the fold, the Falcons upgraded from Jaylinn Hawkins to an All-Pro caliber safety that will be able to be an eraser on the backend of the defense and allow Grant to be more of a roaming player. Having Bates also allows the Falcons to run more varied coverages that will give the Falcons an advantage if they can improve their pass rush. Having Bates also allows Grant to blitz a bit more and play in the box a bit more.

While Grant was the deep coverage safety a good bit in 2022, that role would be reduced in 2023 to one he's more comfortable with as a slot safety or a box safety being more ingrained into his snap counts. Grant is able to help out in the intermediate areas of the field will make it tougher for tight ends to eat up the Falcons across the middle as they have in the past. Because of that Grant should be able to take the next step for the Falcons in 2023.