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Making the case for the Falcons to trade back in 2021 NFL draft


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Not once did the Falcons trade back in the first round of the past 13 NFL drafts. It just wasn’t a preferred philosophy from former general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who tended to hone on his preferred pick and either make it at the slotted position or trade up to ensure he took the player he coveted.

 

But with new general manager Terry Fontenot leading the charge in an unforeseen offseason from a salary cap standpoint, perhaps that approach changes this year.

 

The case for trading back is strong due to the lower 2021 salary cap and the lack of players the Falcons have under contract at the present time. If the Falcons can accrue more picks, the better off they may be. Although Fontenot would rather have a healthy mix of free agents and the draft to fix the team’s issues, he may not be able to have it his preferred way in Year 1.

 

“You have to have a balance,” Fontenot said. “You want to make decisions that are going to help you as much as possible this year but you also have to think about future years and think about 2022, 2023, and think big picture.”

In addition to the 13 drafts under Dimitroff, the last time the Falcons moved back in the first round came in 2002, when the franchise sent the 17th pick to the Oakland Raiders for the 18th selection and a fifth-rounder. The 18th pick became running back T.J. Duckett and the fifth-rounder was quarterback Kurt Kittner.

 

 

As it presently stands, the Falcons have six draft selections -- a pick each in the first six rounds -- and are likely to end up with three compensatory picks after losing tight end Austin Hooper, defensive end Vic Beasley and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to free agency in 2020.

The Falcons are also in a position where they are $20.2 million over what has been projected, to date, to be a $180 million salary cap. That figure isn’t expected to rise above $185 million. The Falcons also have only 39 players under contract, with six players -- quarterback Matt Ryan ($40.9 million), receiver Julio Jones ($23.1 million), defensive tackle Grady Jarrett ($20.8 million), left tackle Jake Matthews ($20.2 million), defensive end Dante Fowler ($18.5 million) and linebacker Deion Jones ($12.6 million) -- accounting for a staggering $136.2 million in cap space for the 2021 season.

Obviously, the previous regime, and everyone for that matter, could not have accounted for a once-a-century pandemic to occur, which reduced league revenue and subsequently reduced the salary cap 2021. When planning for future seasons, it’s typically done with the thought the salary cap will increase. In 2020, the cap was $198.2 million. Due to circumstances out of their control, the Falcons now have to figure out how to cut additional salaries while filling out the roster.

 
 

The answer may lie in the draft more so this year than before.

At the fourth overall spot, which Fontenot called “prime” numerous times during his recent meeting with local reporters, the Falcons figure to have a number of opportunities to trade back and add to their expected nine picks. With this being a draft seemingly having a plethora of upper-tier quarterbacks, the Falcons could be in a spot to trade the fourth overall pick to a team that needs a quarterback, while still having the chance to take Ryan’s eventual successor a little while later in the first round.

“It’s kind of unique and uncommon this year with all of the discussion about the possible trades at the quarterback position,” Fontenot said. “That’s one of those things unless you’re in a specific building, you don’t really know that specific situation, and it’s tough to really comment on what’s going on in those areas, but all we can do is really assess it, assess the market. It’s unique what’s going on at that position. But I think that makes it even more prime.”

Fontenot has stressed both the goal of winning now and maintaining the health of the franchise for future seasons. If he can turn nine picks into 12, or maybe even more thanks to the team’s draft position, then he will fill out a roster for the short term while relying on talented veterans like Ryan, Jones, Jarrett and Matthews. Down the line, however, the Falcons will need to be competitive in free agency. It just doesn’t look like 2021 will be the year the Falcons will be able to enter bidding wars with premier players looking for new destinations.

Relying on such an influx of youth is a risk since the Falcons have needs at positions such as defensive end and safety, which would be better served through free agency. But with enough offensive firepower on the perimeter, the Falcons should still compete with most teams when in a shootout. And having those weapons could be enough for the new front office when it comes to how it addresses the roster in the short term.

“We want to be as competitive as possible now but we also want to keep the future in mind and make sure we have sustained success,” Fontenot said. “That’s the goal here.”

By Jason Butt, For the AJC

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3 minutes ago, ADAMSVILLE GYM said:

Not once did the Falcons trade back in the first round of the past 13 NFL drafts. It just wasn’t a preferred philosophy from former general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who tended to hone on his preferred pick and either make it at the slotted position or trade up to ensure he took the player he coveted.

 

But with new general manager Terry Fontenot leading the charge in an unforeseen offseason from a salary cap standpoint, perhaps that approach changes this year.

 

The case for trading back is strong due to the lower 2021 salary cap and the lack of players the Falcons have under contract at the present time. If the Falcons can accrue more picks, the better off they may be. Although Fontenot would rather have a healthy mix of free agents and the draft to fix the team’s issues, he may not be able to have it his preferred way in Year 1.

 

“You have to have a balance,” Fontenot said. “You want to make decisions that are going to help you as much as possible this year but you also have to think about future years and think about 2022, 2023, and think big picture.”

In addition to the 13 drafts under Dimitroff, the last time the Falcons moved back in the first round came in 2002, when the franchise sent the 17th pick to the Oakland Raiders for the 18th selection and a fifth-rounder. The 18th pick became running back T.J. Duckett and the fifth-rounder was quarterback Kurt Kittner.

 

 

As it presently stands, the Falcons have six draft selections -- a pick each in the first six rounds -- and are likely to end up with three compensatory picks after losing tight end Austin Hooper, defensive end Vic Beasley and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to free agency in 2020.

The Falcons are also in a position where they are $20.2 million over what has been projected, to date, to be a $180 million salary cap. That figure isn’t expected to rise above $185 million. The Falcons also have only 39 players under contract, with six players -- quarterback Matt Ryan ($40.9 million), receiver Julio Jones ($23.1 million), defensive tackle Grady Jarrett ($20.8 million), left tackle Jake Matthews ($20.2 million), defensive end Dante Fowler ($18.5 million) and linebacker Deion Jones ($12.6 million) -- accounting for a staggering $136.2 million in cap space for the 2021 season.

Obviously, the previous regime, and everyone for that matter, could not have accounted for a once-a-century pandemic to occur, which reduced league revenue and subsequently reduced the salary cap 2021. When planning for future seasons, it’s typically done with the thought the salary cap will increase. In 2020, the cap was $198.2 million. Due to circumstances out of their control, the Falcons now have to figure out how to cut additional salaries while filling out the roster.

 
 

The answer may lie in the draft more so this year than before.

At the fourth overall spot, which Fontenot called “prime” numerous times during his recent meeting with local reporters, the Falcons figure to have a number of opportunities to trade back and add to their expected nine picks. With this being a draft seemingly having a plethora of upper-tier quarterbacks, the Falcons could be in a spot to trade the fourth overall pick to a team that needs a quarterback, while still having the chance to take Ryan’s eventual successor a little while later in the first round.

“It’s kind of unique and uncommon this year with all of the discussion about the possible trades at the quarterback position,” Fontenot said. “That’s one of those things unless you’re in a specific building, you don’t really know that specific situation, and it’s tough to really comment on what’s going on in those areas, but all we can do is really assess it, assess the market. It’s unique what’s going on at that position. But I think that makes it even more prime.”

Fontenot has stressed both the goal of winning now and maintaining the health of the franchise for future seasons. If he can turn nine picks into 12, or maybe even more thanks to the team’s draft position, then he will fill out a roster for the short term while relying on talented veterans like Ryan, Jones, Jarrett and Matthews. Down the line, however, the Falcons will need to be competitive in free agency. It just doesn’t look like 2021 will be the year the Falcons will be able to enter bidding wars with premier players looking for new destinations.

Relying on such an influx of youth is a risk since the Falcons have needs at positions such as defensive end and safety, which would be better served through free agency. But with enough offensive firepower on the perimeter, the Falcons should still compete with most teams when in a shootout. And having those weapons could be enough for the new front office when it comes to how it addresses the roster in the short term.

“We want to be as competitive as possible now but we also want to keep the future in mind and make sure we have sustained success,” Fontenot said. “That’s the goal here.”

By Jason Butt, For the AJC

Makes sense.  The draft has always been how you build the foundation of your team.  We have largely failed at it.

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i think the case for trading down doesn't even need to be made, to me it's a no-brainer if a deal is available. besides the need for cheap roster players, there's far more depth in this draft than there is high-end talent. we could turn the #4 pick into 2/3 day 1 starters, AND possibly come away with another first round pick in 2022. no brainer.

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34 minutes ago, JohnnyFranchise said:

i think the case for trading down doesn't even need to be made, to me it's a no-brainer if a deal is available. besides the need for cheap roster players, there's far more depth in this draft than there is high-end talent. we could turn the #4 pick into 2/3 day 1 starters, AND possibly come away with another first round pick in 2022. no brainer.

Gotta agree.  There has to be plans in place to approach us for a trade.  The draft is @ 6 weeks out.  The cuts have started across the NFL, we will more than likely follow suit here moreso surely.

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I'm fine with whatever they decide to do from Round 1 through Round 7. A.S. and T.F. still have days and weeks to go over every conceivable option.

The ultimate goal is to get back into the play-offs asap. Most in here figure the best way to do that is trade down for picks to fill holes. I don't foresee that being of significant help this coming season, as we're still talking about rookies, even if a couple are good enough to start right away.

Combine the rookies with a bunch of second and third-tier FAs and UDFA's, you're much more likely looking at 8-8 rather than 10-6. We're all hoping for better, but realistically it seems unlikely.

Which leaves several options of staying at 4 and taking Parsons, Sewell or some other player who would be counted on to start and have an immediate impact on either offense or defense. This seems like a clearer path to making the play-offs this season. Even with Quinn and Koetter, we lost a crap-ton of games last season by a TD or less. One big play-maker could shift the balance dramatically.

As for taking one of the top four QB's at #4, this would definitely not be an option to improve our play-offs chances this year. Unless, knock on wood, Ryan got hurt and we would then have a franchise-caliber QB to take over in his place.

That to me seems like a much better proposition than having to start a veteran who's been tossed onto the FA scrap pile by their former team, or a lower-round draft pick. That's IF Ryan got injured.

It's going to be exciting to see just what the new regime decides to do. Whatever direction they go, this team is going to be on its way toward better days and a much brighter future. A future involving more hoisting of trophies than embracing the DQ and TD suck.

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With our cap situation, I think this is the best possible year/situation to trade back that we've maybe ever had as a franchise. There's no blue chip DE/SS/FS like Chase Young, Minkah Fitzpatrick or Jamal Adams, no blue chip DT. BPA at #4 is either Sewell or Chase/Smith (WR) unless we go QB, which I still don't think we will. I think we'll end up taking someone like Trask in the 3rd/4th unless Mac Jones falls to our 2nd pick.

Trading back and picking up another 1st next year, 2nd this year and another 3rd and/or 4th gives us ammo to fill those 24-29 roster spots on the cheap and also gives us better value for BPA with more guys at LB, DB, OL, etc. that would be at more impactful positions than whats there at #4. The only pick to me that has true value at #4 if we're sticking with MR2 is Sewell. 

I honestly still really love the scenario of trading down to 15-20 range for Najee Harris and then go safety/edge in the 2nd with the extra pick OR trade back into the first for someone like Zaven Collins. I also could see the reverse of this scenario, trade back for someone like Surtain or Slater then trade back in for Najee Harris.

What an awful year for there not to be a Chase Young/Myles Garrett/Bosa in the top 5. Can a falcon fan get an Abraham caliber EDGE already... FFS.

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44 minutes ago, JohnnyFranchise said:

i think the case for trading down doesn't even need to be made, to me it's a no-brainer if a deal is available. besides the need for cheap roster players, there's far more depth in this draft than there is high-end talent. we could turn the #4 pick into 2/3 day 1 starters, AND possibly come away with another first round pick in 2022. no brainer.

This hits the spot. Especially the bolded part. This appears to be more of a deep draft than blue chip draft IMO. 

Unfortunately the year the Falcons have a top 4 pick is the year that our needs don’t align at all w BPA. Strength at 4 is either QB, OT or WR, spots where the team is strongest (though some will argue that)

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6 hours ago, ADAMSVILLE GYM said:

Not once did the Falcons trade back in the first round of the past 13 NFL drafts. It just wasn’t a preferred philosophy from former general manager Thomas Dimitroff, who tended to hone on his preferred pick and either make it at the slotted position or trade up to ensure he took the player he coveted.

 

But with new general manager Terry Fontenot leading the charge in an unforeseen offseason from a salary cap standpoint, perhaps that approach changes this year.

 

The case for trading back is strong due to the lower 2021 salary cap and the lack of players the Falcons have under contract at the present time. If the Falcons can accrue more picks, the better off they may be. Although Fontenot would rather have a healthy mix of free agents and the draft to fix the team’s issues, he may not be able to have it his preferred way in Year 1.

 

“You have to have a balance,” Fontenot said. “You want to make decisions that are going to help you as much as possible this year but you also have to think about future years and think about 2022, 2023, and think big picture.”

In addition to the 13 drafts under Dimitroff, the last time the Falcons moved back in the first round came in 2002, when the franchise sent the 17th pick to the Oakland Raiders for the 18th selection and a fifth-rounder. The 18th pick became running back T.J. Duckett and the fifth-rounder was quarterback Kurt Kittner.

 

 

As it presently stands, the Falcons have six draft selections -- a pick each in the first six rounds -- and are likely to end up with three compensatory picks after losing tight end Austin Hooper, defensive end Vic Beasley and linebacker De’Vondre Campbell to free agency in 2020.

The Falcons are also in a position where they are $20.2 million over what has been projected, to date, to be a $180 million salary cap. That figure isn’t expected to rise above $185 million. The Falcons also have only 39 players under contract, with six players -- quarterback Matt Ryan ($40.9 million), receiver Julio Jones ($23.1 million), defensive tackle Grady Jarrett ($20.8 million), left tackle Jake Matthews ($20.2 million), defensive end Dante Fowler ($18.5 million) and linebacker Deion Jones ($12.6 million) -- accounting for a staggering $136.2 million in cap space for the 2021 season.

Obviously, the previous regime, and everyone for that matter, could not have accounted for a once-a-century pandemic to occur, which reduced league revenue and subsequently reduced the salary cap 2021. When planning for future seasons, it’s typically done with the thought the salary cap will increase. In 2020, the cap was $198.2 million. Due to circumstances out of their control, the Falcons now have to figure out how to cut additional salaries while filling out the roster.

 
 

The answer may lie in the draft more so this year than before.

At the fourth overall spot, which Fontenot called “prime” numerous times during his recent meeting with local reporters, the Falcons figure to have a number of opportunities to trade back and add to their expected nine picks. With this being a draft seemingly having a plethora of upper-tier quarterbacks, the Falcons could be in a spot to trade the fourth overall pick to a team that needs a quarterback, while still having the chance to take Ryan’s eventual successor a little while later in the first round.

“It’s kind of unique and uncommon this year with all of the discussion about the possible trades at the quarterback position,” Fontenot said. “That’s one of those things unless you’re in a specific building, you don’t really know that specific situation, and it’s tough to really comment on what’s going on in those areas, but all we can do is really assess it, assess the market. It’s unique what’s going on at that position. But I think that makes it even more prime.”

Fontenot has stressed both the goal of winning now and maintaining the health of the franchise for future seasons. If he can turn nine picks into 12, or maybe even more thanks to the team’s draft position, then he will fill out a roster for the short term while relying on talented veterans like Ryan, Jones, Jarrett and Matthews. Down the line, however, the Falcons will need to be competitive in free agency. It just doesn’t look like 2021 will be the year the Falcons will be able to enter bidding wars with premier players looking for new destinations.

Relying on such an influx of youth is a risk since the Falcons have needs at positions such as defensive end and safety, which would be better served through free agency. But with enough offensive firepower on the perimeter, the Falcons should still compete with most teams when in a shootout. And having those weapons could be enough for the new front office when it comes to how it addresses the roster in the short term.

“We want to be as competitive as possible now but we also want to keep the future in mind and make sure we have sustained success,” Fontenot said. “That’s the goal here.”

By Jason Butt, For the AJC

You had me at, "Trade Back "

 

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Here's the thing about this year's draft: it's gonna be deep. I don't say that to mean that there is an usual amount of talent in the draft, I mean that Covid plus no combine means tons of good players won't get the attention that they normally would. It's a perfect draft to have a lot of picks. This draft will be a real wildcard.

Anyone that actually watches our games knows that while Matt didn't have his best season, it all boiled down to bad play-calling. Tons of 7 step dropbacks, combined with a terribly uncreative running game headed by a blown out knee, an o line group not meant for the play calls, and playing to the sticks on 3rd down all led to one of Matt's worst seasons. 

We know that Matt is best in a West Cost offense, and that his ceiling was high enough to lead the 7th highest scoring offense of all time, and the 4th best passer rating of all time in the Super Bowl. If your team can't win off of that performance, then no amount of QB play will save you.

We don't need a QB. Matty is 36 going into the season. He's barely been injured ever. Spending the 4th overall on a QB with this low of cap would just be negligent, considering how many other positions need help.

If we can trade down and gather some picks, I really think it will put AS and TD in a great spot to lead the franchise going forward. It just makes too much sense this year.

 

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