Atlanta Falcons Trade Deadline Previewby Mike Fanelli October 13, 2021 0 comments
Despite winning two of their past three games, the Atlanta Falcons head into their bye week with a 2-3 record. Furthermore, their two wins have come over the New York Jets and New York Giants, who have a combined 2-8 record this season. After the bye week, the Falcons have a tough schedule ahead, facing the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, and Dallas Cowboys in three of their next four games. Those three teams are currently in the playoff picture and have a combined 10-5 record this season. With the playoffs likely out of reach, fans should expect the Falcons to trade away veterans in the last year of their deals for draft picks as they start building for the future.
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The Falcons Current Status
Current Record: 2-3
Division Standings: Last in the NFC South
In the Playoff Picture: No
Buyers or Sellers: Sellers
Current NFL Draft Slot: Eighth Overall
Potential Trade #1: Hayden Hurst and a 2022 fifth-round pick to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2022 third-round pick
This past Sunday, the Cardinals lost their starting tight end, Maxx Williams, to a season-ending knee injury. Williams was a critical part of the passing attack for the Cardinals this season, with 16 targets entering Sunday’s games. With Williams out for the season, the Cardinals will turn to Darrell Daniels, Demetrius Harris, and Ross Travis at the tight end position. The trio has combined for zero catches on three targets this season. If the Cardinals plan to continue using their tight ends in the passing game this season, they must make a trade as the current options on the roster won’t get the job done.
Meanwhile, after the Falcons selected Kyle Pitts with the fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Hurst’s future with the team was in doubt. Then, the Falcons declined the fifth-year option on Hurst’s contract in May, making him a free agent after this season. On Sunday, Hurst had his best game of the season with four catches for 40 receiving yards and a touchdown, making now the best time to trade him. The Falcons could decide against trading Hurst, which would leave them with a potential compensatory pick in 2023. Instead, they could add a late third-round selection this year to help jump-start their rebuilding process by trading Hurst. This trade makes enough sense that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it happen within a week.
Potential Trade #2: Mike Davis to the Tennessee Titans for a 2022 sixth-round pick
In the offseason, the Falcons signed Davis to a two-year deal worth $5.5 million. However, the Falcons will likely release Davis after this season, opening up $2.5 million dollars in cap space for the 2023 season. Despite several opportunities to pick a running back during the 2021 NFL Draft, the Falcons didn’t use a single selection on the position. With limited competition entering the season, Davis was supposed to be the featured back. However, Cordarrelle Patterson has broken out this season and turned into the best running back on the team. Despite Davis receiving 21 more rushing attempts, Patterson has averaged almost a full yard more per carry. Furthermore, Patterson has turned into the most consistent weapon in the receiving game this season, scoring 40 percent of the receiving touchdowns.
While the Falcons have no reason to hold onto Davis, the Titans should be interested in the seven-year pro. In relief of Christian McCaffrey last season, Davis averaged 4.5 yards per touch on 224 total touches. Furthermore, Davis is a capable backup running back who can step in when the starter misses times. Meanwhile, the Titans have a superstar running back in Derrick Henry. However, over his past 36 games, Henry has averaged 24.3 touches per game, most in the NFL. Even with his massive frame, Henry is at risk for suffering a serious injury this season after the recent heavy workload. With Jeremy McNichols as the current backup, the Titans would be wise to send the Falcons a late sixth-round pick to beef up the running back depth.
Potential Trade #3: Dante Fowler Jr. to the Los Angeles Rams for a 2022 fifth-round pick
Since signing a three-year deal worth $45 million with the Falcons last offseason, Fowler has totaled only five sacks in 18 games. While he currently is tied for the team lead with two sacks this season, the Falcons should explore a trade for Fowler as he enters the final year of his deal. However, to trade Fowler, the Falcons will likely need to adjust his contract to lower the cap hit for his new team. While Fowler has played an average of 65.8 percent of the snaps per game this season, the Falcons would be wise to give his snaps to their younger players. 2021 fifth-round pick Adetokunbo Ogundeji has played only 32 percent of the defensive snaps this season and should get the first crack at claiming Fowlers’ snaps.
Despite sitting with a 4-1 record and second place in the NFC West, the Los Angeles Rams are far from the perfect team. After averaging 3.2 sacks per game last season, the Rams have averaged only 2.8 this season, finishing with three or fewer sacks in every game. Leading the way are Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, with three sacks each. Just behind them are Sebastian Joseph, Justin Hollins, and Terrell Lewis have two apiece. Meanwhile, the last time Fowler was with the Rams, he posted a career-high 11.5 sacks and 19 quarterback hurries. With facing Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, and Trey Lance six times a year, the Rams can’t emphasize getting to the quarterback too much. At the cost of a day three selection, the Rams should consider adding Fowler.
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