The Falcons have their head coach and offensive coordinator, but the most important task of the offfseason awaits them.
Hiring the right head coach and bringing in the right offensive coordinator were two of the Falcons’ three biggest offseason tasks. Finding the right quarterback trumps both. It doesn’t matter who is coaching the Falcons until they figure out the most important position in sports. As we saw with Desmond Ridder, poor play from a team’s signal caller can ensure underwhelming results.
The examples of a team overcoming poor quarterback play are few and far between. Oftentimes, a scenario like that involves elite rosters around them — i.e., Trent Dilfer and the Ravens. It’s a quarterback driven league, and the Falcons don’t have one.
All focus should be on how to acquire the best signal caller available, whether that means in the short-term or long-term. The options aren’t quite as plentiful as they appeared a couple of months ago.
With a few weeks left in the season, it seemed possible that the Falcons would be able to trade up for one of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Jayden Daniels with a team like the Chargers, Cardinals, or another with an established quarterback.
The Falcons also seemed like they could just dip into free agency for a guy like Baker Mayfield or Kirk Cousins; now, it seems possible, maybe even likely that both re-sign with their respective teams.
It could be tough sledding for the Falcons, but Bleacher Report believes a trade for Justin Fields would actually put them into contender status, not just of the postseason variety but in the conversation of Super Bowl teams.
Atlanta Falcons receive: QB Justin Fields
Chicago Bears receive: 2024 second-round draft pick (No. 43 overall)
Over the last three years, the Atlanta Falcons have patiently assembled an offensive lineup rife with high-upside skill-position prospects. They haven’t found a quarterback capable of unlocking the unit’s immense potential, though, and this clear lack of passing talent has resulted in three consecutive 7-10 campaigns with zero playoff berths.
The time has come for the team to take a chance on a quarterback with a ceiling that matches that of Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson.
While Atlanta could opt to fill its hole under center through the draft, its options will be limited at No. 8 overall. It is nearly certain that blue-chip prospects Caleb Williams and Drake Maye—the top quarterbacks on the B/R Scouting Department’s big board and the first two players taken in their latest mock draft—will be long gone before the Falcons are on the clock.
Jayden Daniels, the B/R Scouting Department’s No. 3 QB, is a dice roll to still be available without trading up—a move that would cost a large amount of draft capital. With lower-tier quarterback prospects like Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix disappointing at the Senior Bowl, making a run at Justin Fields is looking like Atlanta’s best option for a quick turnaround.
The 24-year-old had a rough start to his highly anticipated 2023 campaign but righted the ship in the back half of the year. That resurgence has made this decision a tougher one, but Atlanta could capitalize if the Bears ultimately decide to tap a quarterback at the top of the upcoming draft.
Offering a second-rounder would likely be enough to get this deal done. Bill Barnwell of ESPN theorized that the Falcons could ship over pick No. 48—a selection the club would receive if Calvin Ridley remains with the Jacksonville Jaguars on a contract extension—or send over a pair of third-rounders.
It may not be much of a return on investment for the No. 11 overall pick in 2021, especially considering the Bears gave up an additional first-rounder to trade up to get Fields that year, but it would give Chicago and Atlanta the fresh starts these franchises both need.
If Fields finally lives up to his potential while playing with a stacked supporting cast, Atlanta could be a sneaky Super Bowl contender coming out of the wide-open NFC South.
I’ve cooled off on the idea of trading for Justin Fields for a few reasons. Firstly, the capital required to acquire him and his contract status are both negatives. A second-round pick for potentially one year isn’t enticing. He’ll need a decision on his fifth-year option this offseason, which is a big decision for a team like the Falcons, who have no data on him playing in Atlanta.
However, more concerning than either of those is his fit. Are we sure Justin Fields is the type of quarterback that Zac Robinson wants to operate his offense? In terms of past signal callers from Robinson’s expected system, that answer should be a resounding no.
Robinson hails from the Sean McVay-Kyle Shanahan coaching tree, which has a specific type of quarterback — Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Brock Purdy, Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, etc.
Playing on time, with anticipation and most of all accuracy are hallmarks of the quarterbacks who have thrived in these kinds of systems. It’s not to say that Justin Fields can’t do it. He just hasn’t done it in three years with the Bears.
Moreover, asking a super athlete like Fields to stand in the pocket is a disservice to him. My biggest concern could easily be quashed if Zac Robinson comes out and tells Raheem Morris, Terry Fontenot, and the Falcons that he can tailor his offense to Justin Fields’ skill set.
Until then, I think I’d pass, but even if a trade does come to fruition, it certainly doesn’t make the Falcons Super Bowl contenders like Bleacher Report believes.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire