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Terry Fontenot opens door for competition between Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder (and everywhere else on the team)

Falcons GM Terry Fontenot joins Mike Florio to discuss his road from New Orleans to Atlanta, why they made Drake London the first wide receiver taken in the 2022 NFL Draft and what excites him about QB Desmond Ridder.

After a dizzying few days that resulted in the failure to trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson and the decision to trade quarterback Matt Ryan, the Falcons signed Marcus Mariota, ostensibly to be the starter. In the third round of last week’s draft, the Falcons added Desmond Ridder.

So who will be the starter? G.M. Terry Fontenot was asked that specific question during a Tuesday visit to #PFTPM, and the answer sweeps broadly throughout the roster.

“I would say at any position on our depth chart, it’s all the same that right now we’re going to have going into camp we’re going to have 90 players all competing to be the 53 plus 16,” Fontenot said. “On a weekly basis, they’re going to be competing to get a jersey on game day to be one of the 48. That’s truly how we see this. We’ll continue to add competition at every position and that’s what’s really exciting about this.”

Ridder won the competition to be the second quarterback off the board, going before Malik Willis and Matt Corral. Why did Fontenot and the Falcons pick Ridder?

“At that point, he truly was he was the best guy off the board, and we were excited to take him off because we spent time with Desmond as we did the other quarterbacks throughout the process,” Fontenot said. “I remember going into Cincinnati and after he worked out getting to sit in a room with him and we talked to him a lot and he went through how they brought that program to a different level. . . . [H]e’s very selfless and humble and the way he talked about his teammates and the coaching staff and what they did I think is special, what they were able to do at Cincinnati raising that program to another level. . . . [H]e does have a chip on his shoulder, he always has felt like he has something to prove, and he’s one of those guys that whether he goes in the first round or the seventh round, he’s going to be that type of worker that brings it every day. We’re excited to take Desmond at that time, excited about the time we spent with him, and we’re excited to get him here so we can go to work.”

Ridder’s playing style meshes wells with Mariota’s, making it easier for the rest of the team to adjust to either guy. Fontenot was asked whether the similarities attracted the Falcons to Ridder.

“I wouldn’t say that that was a part of the consideration,” Fontenot said. “I would say we just evaluated the player, but it is cool to look at the quarterback room right now. There’s not many quarterback rooms that look like that with Marcus and Desmond and also Feleipe Franks. I mean, they look good coming off the bus. Some big, athletic guys. But again, they’re all really good human beings as well. Marcus Mariota, as soon as he was here and found a house and he was in the building, and he’s been here working as much as he possibly can. Anything that he can legally do, he’s going to do it to try to be the best football player he can be. It’s been exciting to see him work. Desmond is wired that same way so that’s always important to us. It’s a big athletic looking group.”

It’s an interesting time for the Falcons. Other than the lost year of 2007, their quarterback chain over the past 21 years goes from Michael Vick to Matt Ryan. Will Ridder become the next one who holds the job for years to come? Will Mariota get the nod for all or part of 2022? Time will tell.