Mike Smith plays golf, but he didn’t enjoy a round Thursday at Augusta National Golf Club.
The Atlanta Falcons coach headlined the annual Georgia-Carolina Council Boy Scouts of America Friends of Scouting Leadership dinner at the Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center.
Earlier in the day, he attended the University of Georgia’s Pro Day in Athens, Ga.
“There is no off-season,” Smith said. “There’s just the non-game playing season. It’s very busy. The way the league is set up with the salary cap, you’re going to have to recalibrate your roster each and every year.”
Smith said he has limited opportunities to speak in the off-season. But he came to Augusta, he said, because he likes the positive opportunities the Boy Scouts creates.
“I’m an outdoors person. I enjoy fishing, hiking, biking and things like that,” Smith said. “So it gives kids an opportunity to get out and do things like that. And it’s really faith-based and value-based, and that’s very important as well.”
It’s been a busy off-season for the Falcons. The team re-signed safety William Moore and left tackle Sam Baker. The big catch was luring back future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, who hinted at retirement after Atlanta lost in the NFC Championship Game to San Francisco in January.
With the re-signing of Gonzalez, Smith said the team’s draft strategy remains unchanged – the Falcons were projected to take a tight end in one of the early rounds before Gonzalez returned. Atlanta, which picks 30th in round one of April’s NFL Draft, now likely will focus on the defensive side of the ball early, with defensive end and cornerback pressing needs.
“Those are obviously areas we’re evaluating in both free agency and the draft,” Smith said. “There’s a number of players still available.”
One position Atlanta will not have to worry about is running back.
After letting Michael Turner go after last season, the Falcons signed Rams running back Stephen Jackson, one of the top free agents available. Though Jackson will turn 30 in the summer – the same age as Turner last season – Smith said the new acquisition will add a different dynamic to the offense led by quarterback Matt Ryan.
“Stephen Jackson is a very good receiving running back,” Smith said. “He’s going to create some mismatches in the passing game. He’s going to be another weapon for Matt to have in his arsenal.”