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The Atlanta Falcons spent another year failing to find a franchise quarterback after moving on from Matt Ryan several years ago. Two seasons have come and gone and the Falcons don't have a long-term answer at quarterback, nor a playoff appearance -- despite playing in the poor NFC South. 

Atlanta hasn't had a winning season or playoff appearance in six years. The Falcons finished with their third consecutive 7-10 season, juggling between Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke as starting quarterback throughout the year. The decision to go with those two quarterbacks instead of pursuing Lamar Jackson when he was available this offseason led to Arthur Smith's firing on Monday, putting the Falcons in a rebuilding phase once again. 

Jackson, you may recall, was originally given the non-exclusive franchise tag by the Ravens, allowing him to negotiate with other teams with the ability to match any offer. All Atlanta had to do was call the Baltimore Ravens' bluff and sign Jackson, forcing Baltimore to match the deal. If the Ravens didn't match, the Falcons would have been forced to part with two first-round picks.

Simple right? 

"It's easy to say yes given his year," Falcons CEO Arthur Blank said at his end-of-season press conference Monday, via a team transcript. "He's obviously an incredible player. We did not have the cap space. 

"I think the coaching staff felt – coaching, personnel, all of us – felt collectively, but certainly Coach and Terry (Falcons GM Terry Fontenot), that we had an answer in (Desmond) Ridder. A younger player without that kind of contract that would have kept us from actually building the team we wanted to build."

The Falcons wanted a young quarterback on a rookie contract, hence the decision to stick with Ridder (and develop him). 

"What's happened to us too often in the past, you've seen us, and many people in this room can remember players that we've drafted well, brought them along, got to Year 4 or Year 5, and we had to let them go because we didn't have the cap space," Blank said. "It's not a question of cash. Didn't have the cap space, so we had to let players go. That's not a good formula. 

"We want to be able to raise our own children and keep our own children as best we can. I think the result of that thinking was, 'Let's stay the course. Let's continue to pursue the vision that we have now. Continue to build this roster. Build this foundation offensively and defensively and go from there."

Blank also wasn't fully convinced if Jackson was actually available, but the Falcons -- along with many other teams -- did not call the Ravens' bluff. Jackson's free agency never was challenged. 

"It's not a criticism of Lamar. You could debate whether or not he really would have been available or not," Blank said. "Who knows whether they would have matched whatever offers were on the table. I don't know that. I'm not sure.

"But certainly a great player, for sure. Had a great year." 

Jackson is about to capture his second MVP award for five years. The Falcons keep searching for a quarterback. Atlanta didn't want to take the risk after getting out of cap hell. 

Keep in mind this was the franchise that once pursued Deshaun Watson

"I think the decision at the time to pursue Deshaun to the extent that we did was a collaborative decision," Blank said. "There will be a number of people involved in that. We pursued it to a point. Then at some point, it didn't make sense for us, so we became just an observer...I don't think, looking back at that decision, I don't think – even looking back with hindsight – I don't think we would have done anything differently at that time. 

"It was not a long discussion we had about Deshaun. We went through a little bit of the process with him. Then, we decided for a lot of reasons that we didn't want to continue to pursue him." 

The Falcons want to draft and develop. That much is clear.