The Falcons signed…a fullback? Of course they did.
This is actually not a stunner for many reasons. Ricky Ortiz was one of the big surprises of the 2019 roster, given that he had a solid but unspectacular 2018 season and was lightly utilized. The Falcons have talked a lot about running more effectively (which, ominously, may mean one of the game’s best passing offenses running more often), and they had interest in Keith Smith as recently as last offseason. They didn’t end up getting him—he went to Oakland instead—but when he became available in final cuts Dan Quinn’s eyes must have lit up.
The #Falcons have signed former #Raiders fullback Keith Smith to a 1-year deal, source said. He was a surprise cut in Oakland over the weekend.
9:55 PM – Sep 2, 2019
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Smith has three carries and 13 receptions in five NFL seasons, but it’s his blocking that has earned him accolades throughout his career, and it’s the reason he’s likely coming to Atlanta. He’s a powerful, fearless blocker who will be counted upon to pave the way for Devonta Freeman, with Luke Stocker and Jaeden Graham potentially spelling him in that role on obvious passing downs. I’m not a massive fan of using a roster spot on a pure fullback given the team’s other needs, but if they’re going to use one, it may as well be a blocker of Smith’s caliber.
This isn’t official from the team just yet and there’s no corresponding move, but it’s safe to assume that Ricky Ortiz will be looking to latch on elsewhere shortly. His athleticism should get him a role, and we’ll hope Smith fits in well here.