The Atlanta Falcons have plenty of holes to fill on their top-heavy roster under new GM Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith. At least one new addition believes the turnaround could be quick.
"I don't look at it as a no-hope rebuild," tight end Lee Smith said, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "That's just not the way I look at it. Not with the talent on this roster and the success that they've had with so many of the same guys that are still on this roster."
A blocking tight end, Smith was traded from Buffalo last week for a seventh-round pick. Entering his 11th NFL season, Smith knows about rebuilding. The 33-year-old spent his first four seasons in Buffalo from 2011-2014, mostly living in the cellar of the AFC East. After two years in Oakland, Smith returned to Buffalo.
With Josh Allen under center during his second stint with the Bills, Smith knows well the quarterback position as the key to whether a club is rebuilding or not. With Matt Ryan entrenched, Smith believes the Falcons can quickly flip the script after three straight seasons missing the playoffs.
"I guess the rebuilding thing for me starts at the quarterback," Smith said. "I've been doing this long enough to know that without a quarterback, it's going to be long year. So, I guess my thing is if I can walk into a locker room with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, it (doesn't) really matter who else you put around them, if you do things the right way, you can probably score on offense."
Scoring on offense has rarely been the Falcons' issue, but rather the defense has consistently let down the club. The most significant holes on offense have been the O-line and backfield. Bolstering the run game and pass blocking is what Lee Smith believes he can bring to the table in Arthur Smith's offense.
"I like having my hand in the dirt and partying with the offensive linemen," Smith said. "I'm the run game guy, I'm in there to make sure the other teams don't hit the running back or Matt Ryan."
The cap-strapped Falcons have purged the roster in Fontenot's first season at the helm and added depth without breaking the bank. Signings like running back Mike Davis, linebacker Brandon Copeland and safety Erik Harris have keyed the offseason approach.
Despite many needs heading into the draft, Smith doesn't see Atlanta's situation as a dire one that could have the Falcons drafting in the top five once again in 2022.
"At this point in my career, I would have shut it down and started coaching at the local high school before I would have joined another team I didn't believe in," Smith said. "That's just the truth. I feel super blessed to be in this situation."