Falcons: Blockbuster offseason trade candidates before free agency

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High-profile trades are pretty uncommon in today’s NFL, but fans can always expect a couple each offseason. In the wake of the Matthew Stafford trade, I decided to throw some names together the Falcons should be interested in. Chase broke down how simple restructures could net Atlanta at least $15 million, so the Falcons should have plenty of room to add most of these guys.

It’s likely a new regime will want their picks to play with, but anything can happen. I’ll keep it as realistic as possible, focusing on players that teams would actually consider moving. Lastly, I’ll be doing a “salary dump” style trade package article that can actually help Atlanta get some better picks, and one with some under the radar trade pieces. One thing is for sure — this offseason will be wild, and the NFL will look very different in 2021.

 

Skill players:

 

HB Damien Harris, New England Patriots

TE Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles

TE David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

 

It is not a very inspiring group, but I think snagging an additional tight end in the draft is important for the Falcons. It’s even more crucial that they acquire a running back. I could see Belichick dealing Harris after a very good season, but I’d rather draft a running back than give up assets. If you want to read my thoughts about acquiring Zach Ertz, you can find that here. David Njoku is in trade rumors every offseason, but it would cause some issues with Hayden Hurst‘s fifth-year option uncertain, and Njoku being a free agent after this season. I do like Njoku, but I’m not giving up another pick for a tight end.

 

Offensive line:

 

C JC Tretter, Cleveland Browns

C Chase Roullier, Washington Football Team

C Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles

G Brandon Brooks, Philadelphia Eagles

G Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys

 

Most teams don’t trade their good offensive linemen, but I needed a few targets here. I don’t see the Browns moving Tretter, but their roster will get very expensive quickly. They did move Kevin Zeitler for the right price, but that price included Odell Beckham Jr, and they were still pretty bad back then. Chase Roullier is one of the best centers in the NFL, and he’s on a pretty reasonable contract until 2025. I’m not sure Washington would part with him. Jason Kelce may actually be cut, and I’d scoop him immediately if he is. Brandon Brooks just suffered a horrible Achilles injury, and he’s very expensive for a few more seasons. Philly will probably be looking to unload him, but I don’t see them having much luck.

Now, onto Zack Martin. Martin is 30 and pretty expensive for a guy who is coming off of a few injuries himself. However, when healthy, he is still one of the premier guards in the NFL. Dallas is desperate for cap space with Dak Prescott possibly hitting free agency, so they could look to deal Martin. His $17 million cap hit would take up most of the space Atlanta could create, but he’s a game-changer on the offensive line. Dallas only saves $1 million by trading him before the draft, so sorry — no scenarios this round either. I’d rather keep the picks with Joe Thuney, Corey Linsley, and Brandon Scherff on the market.

 

Front seven:

 

IDL Da’Ron Payne, Washington Football Team

IDL Jonathan Allen, Washington Football Team

EDGE JJ Watt, Houston Texans

EDGE Von Miller, Denver Broncos

EDGE Trey Flowers, Detroit Lions

EDGE Montez Sweat, Washington Football Team

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys

LB Eric Kendricks, Minnesota Vikings

 

Now, we’re talking. It seems that Washington would only be able to afford one of Payne or Allen, so they may have to choose after this season. I covered a JJ Watt trade here, and the pros and cons of bringing him to Atlanta, as it seems his time in Houston is over. I’ll get to Von Miller in a moment. As much as I would love to bring Trey Flowers along, he is insanely expensive, and I doubt Atlanta could fit his $23 million yearly salary hit into their cap sheet. Montez Sweat has a few more seasons until free agency along with a fifth-year option, so I don’t see Washington letting him go.

Vander Esch has one more season of control along with a fifth-year option, but he has had injury troubles, and Dallas likely won’t be able to afford him. However, I think he’s worth making an offer on if Atlanta thinks they can extend him. Eric Kendricks is expensive for a linebacker, but he could probably fit into Atlanta’s plans over the next three seasons. He is a very talented player that I don’t see Minnesota parting with.

Okay, Von Miller. Miller is crazy expensive, but Denver would incur $4.125 million of his dead money if he’s traded before June 1st, and they would save $18 million. Injuries ended his 2020 season before it started, and he had a career-low in sacks in 2019. Not only that, but he also has some serious off the field issues that are still mostly unknown. It would be tough to resist offering a few later picks to Denver to see if they bite.

 

Defensive backs:

 

CB Stephon Gilmore, New England Patriots

CB James Bradberry, New York Giants

S Justin Reid, Houston Texans

 

Pretty thin list — as with offensive linemen — good teams with high-quality defensive backs rarely trade them. Stephon Gilmore had a down season after a legendary 2019. Not to mention, he’s 30 and very expensive for 2021 before he hits free agency. James Bradberry was fantastic in 2020, but he’s also very expensive, hovering around $17 million for the next two seasons. With only one year of elite production, it would be a substantial gamble.

Justin Reid is a name I’m very interested in. If this draft and free agency class weren’t so deep at safety, I’d be advocating for picking him up. The Texans are starving for picks, and although he had a down 2020, Reid is an elite safety. He only has one more season of team control, so it’s probably best to wait until free agency.

 

 

 

 

 

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