Scott Bair is on vacation. Tori picks up the mail bag and immediately addresses the elephant in the room. Tori McElhaney

Scott Bair is on vacation, and I for one am very happy. He needed a break so I hope he likes it. In the meantime, all editorial content goes through me for the next week. This includes the next few parts of Bair Mails.

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I wanted to start things off with a bang, and thankfully you all asked some really good questions to end this week. Mainly, we’re going to address the elephant in the room: Why the hell are the Falcons signing so many players to the Bears?!

Let’s figure it out.

James Pierce of Middle Georgia

Hey, first question, so thanks for the opportunity to answer what’s on my mind. I noticed a lot of signings from the Bears side. Am I the only one who thinks the bears haven’t been to the playoffs in years so I think players from a winning team can improve us more than the former bears. I know we’ve had personal bears since last year, but I just don’t see a difference-maker there.

James, welcome to the mailbag! Thank you for your statement.

To answer your question: No. Of course, you’re not the only one who thinks this. After signing with Eddie Goldman, that’s the only thing anyone thinks about. And I understand. I can see Ryan Pace’s jokes. I also find them funny. But in reality, the Falcons are unable to bring in players who can make an immediate difference. Right now, the Falcons can’t afford difference makers in the sense that we view them. They are looking for valuable finds. You’re looking for players who can help you cheaply bridge the gap from A to B. Strong emphasis on ‘cheap’. So as much as I think everyone would love to see a big name come to the Falcons, it’s not going to happen in the offseason because big names come with big salaries that the Falcons can’t afford at this point.

I’d also like to point out that the Falcons didn’t just sign former Bears players this offseason. They also collected many former Titans, all of whom are related to Arthur Smith. Think Marcus Mariota, Anthony Firkser and Rashaun Evans.

This is a trend we observed last year as well. I know people forget, but Dave Ragone and Charles London came from the Bears. So did Cordarrelle Patterson, Jonathan Bullard and James Waters midseason.

Sure, you’d like every one-year deal to produce Patterson’s results, but that’s the exception to the rule, not the rule. You’re looking for veteran role players, and often the coaches or front office already have an established comfort and rapport with the players they’ve coached before. They know they can get them here on a short-term, cheaper deal, which the Falcons can provide right now. None of the players we’re discussing here (former Bears players or otherwise) have signed contracts for more than two years. It’s temporary, and big names usually aren’t.

Let’s take the example further. Consider Dan Quinn, who is now the defensive coordinator in Dallas. Who did he sign in free agency last year? Keanu Neal and Damante Cazi have signed one-year contracts. Either way, it’s an unusual practice for teams to try to fill deep and veteran talent at certain positions.

Marks Turner of Covington, Georgia.

Please help me understand why they didn’t arrest or prosecute JC Tretter? A proven solid center will be a huge upgrade. No more two 2nd year players side by side. They could make the deal work if they really wanted to.

Of course they could. But will they want to lay out that kind of money when they already have Matt Hennessy and Drew Dahlman still on rookie deals? Cleveland took a cut from Tretter this year to get more than $8 million. Could the Falcons pull off a similar cap hit? Of course. But it turns them off when they try to dig deeper elsewhere. They only have $12 million in cap space at the moment, according to Spotrac.

Personally, I’m not ready to give up Hennessy or Dalman just yet. I think Hennessey gets criticized more than he should just because he fills the vacated role of Alex Mack. That’s hard to do when Mack has been one of the best centers over the past 13 seasons. As for Hennessy, yes, he needs to improve his pass blocking as a full-time starter, but his pass blocking in 2021 has looked pretty good, and I’ve really liked what I’ve seen from him in that regard. As for Dahlman, he will get a chance to push Hennessy for the starting spot during training camp. What can he do with this opportunity? I want to see how things turn out with those two before I go and find someone like Tretter. But that’s just me!

Will Smith of Summerville, Georgia.

Hi Tori, welcome back. Which single player has impressed you the most this preseason and why? Thanks for the hard work and excellent information.

Hi Will! Thank you! Glad to be back and thanks for the kind words.

I’ll start by saying that it’s hard to get a good evaluation of players during minicamp because full pads aren’t on and they’re not running and tackling at full speed. So it’s really more of an assessment of guys’ mental makeup and getting feedback from the coaches on how far they’ve come. With that in mind, I think Desmond Reeder’s understanding of the scheme impressed me the most.

The fact that Arthur Smith paid him the compliment of being light years ahead of the young defenders from the neck up? Smith is not one to say that lightly. So that comment, combined with talking to Reeder about how confident he feels in the scheme, was probably the most notable information I took away from minicamp about a single player.

Submit your questions

I’m going to need a week of questions from you to fill all the email I’ll be writing while Scott is gone! Don’t let me down. Send them here.

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