After closing out the 2019 season strong, the Atlanta Falcons had playoff expectations this season. However, the team has started the season off 1-6, with their only win coming over the 1-5 Minnesota Vikings. They have blown several fourth-quarter leads and even forgot how the onside kick rules work in their loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.
After starting the season 0-5, the Falcons fired head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. With the trade deadline coming up, rumors are swirling that the team could trade Matt Ryan and Julio Jones as they enter a full-blown rebuilding stage. However, that is very unlikely. Instead, the team should look to add a couple of day three picks for veterans who won’t be with the team next season for one reason or another. With that in mind, here are three potential trades the Falcons should make.
Trade #1: Todd Gurley to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2021 fifth-round pick
When the Falcons signed Gurley in the offseason, he was signed as a stop-gap fill-in after releasing Devonta Freeman. Playing on a one-year deal, Gurley has to know the Falcons don’t view him as the same back he was a few years ago. However, he had hoped a return to the state of Georgia would have been better than the 1-6 record the team holds. The Falcons would be wised to trade Gurley now, as they likely won’t receive a 2022 compensatory pick for him in free agency.
Kenyan Drake suffered an ankle injury that will sideline him for a few weeks. While Chase Edmonds can be the starter, the Cardinals shouldn’t put all the pressure on him. Remember, last season the Cardinals traded for Drake at the deadline after David Johnson suffered an injury. Could they do similar again this year? Playing in the NFC West, the Cardinals can’t afford to suffer any slip-ups, and if they can get Gurley for a late fifth-round, they should make the deal.
Trade #2: Alex Mack to the Kansas City Chiefs for a 2021 fourth-round pick
Mack will turn 35 years old in a few weeks and doesn’t have many years left in his career. He will be a free agent after the season, and if he isn’t traded, he could ask for his release to join a Super Bowl contender. The Falcons don’t expect to re-sign him in the offseason as they spent a third-round pick on Matt Hennessy in April’s draft. Instead of keeping the rookie on the bench, the Falcons should move Mack to a contender and get Hennessy some game experience.
For the Chiefs, their offensive line has taken a beating this season. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out this season because of Covid-19. Then his replacement, Kelechi Osemele, torn ligaments in both his knees and is out for the season. While Mack’s natural position is center, the Chiefs can move starting center, Austin Reiter, over to guard and slide Mack in at center. Patrick Mahomes is worth over half a billion dollars, and if a fourth-round pick helps them protect him better, it’s a move the Chiefs need to make.
Trade #3: Keanu Neal to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a 2021 fifth-round pick
After playing in only four of 32 games in 2018 and 2019, Neal has stayed mostly healthy this season, missing only one game so far. However, after his long injury history, the Falcons aren’t likely to give him the contract he’s looking for in the offseason. Furthermore, they spent a fourth-round pick on Jaylinn Hawkins in April’s draft. If the Falcons aren’t going to re-sing Neal, they should move him for a draft pick rather than hoping to get a compensatory pick for him in 2022.
The Steelers are the last remaining undefeated team in the league, with a record of 6-0. Their defense has been excellent, but they did lose star linebacker Devin Bush to a torn ACL two weeks ago. The Steelers are using a combination of players at the linebacker position, including safety Marcus Allen. However, Neal has always played his best in the box and would be an upgrade over Allen. Even if the Steelers don’t want to play Neal at linebacker, he would be an upgrade over starting safety Terrell Edmunds. For the cost of a late fifth-round pick, adding Neal could be the last piece the Steelers defense needs to win the Super Bowl.
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