Falcons: Now more than ever, Terry Fontenot cannot show his cards before the 2021 NFL Draft

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With the news that Sam Darnold has been shipped to Carolina, the Falcons are feeling the shockwaves of the move. Atlanta holds the key to this draft, with the first, second, and third picks all but locked in. The 49ers can create some noise with the third selection, but the Falcons will have their choice of the fourth or fifth quarterback in this draft. Personally, I’m a big fan of a lot of players at that junction, especially Kyle Pitts.

I already talked about how the Darnold trade could impact the Falcons, and most of it revolved around one less bidder for a quarterback. I don’t think there was a prayer that Atlanta would deal the fourth selection to Carolina, but it does take a bidder out of the race. In addition, it seems like Carolina will not only bypass trading up — but they likely won’t pick a quarterback at all. So what does that mean for Atlanta in the grand scheme of things?

Two teams look to be chomping at the bit to move up in this draft for a quarterback — New England and Denver. I’m not too keen on making a deal with New England, but Denver makes a lot of sense as a trade partner. The primary key is that the Broncos were in on Sam Darnold, and now they’re either stuck with another season of Drew Lock, or they have to pay a pretty penny for Atlanta’s fourth overall pick. That cuts both ways, though. With Carolina out of the race, it’s more likely that a quarterback does fall to the Broncos.

With the Bengals, Dolphins, Lions, and Panthers standing between the Broncos and a quarterback, there is a chance that a team tries to cut a deal with one of those teams for a lower price — like the Patriots. However, I think this move was beneficial to Atlanta, as long as they keep their lips sealed leading up to the draft.

When I say Atlanta holds the keys, the most significant part of that is there is still a strong possibility they select a franchise quarterback to be the heir to Matt Ryan. If they tip the indication that they are looking elsewhere, then the asking price of their pick may go down a bit. If the Broncos genuinely believe they love Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones, they may need to pay an extra premium to secure “their guy.”

I have complete faith in the front office accomplishing this; they are very aware that this is the situation at hand. If the Falcons want to get a haul as the Dolphins received for the third pick, the illusion that they’re all in on one of these quarterbacks must be maintained. Even if they stick at four and select a quarterback or Kyle Pitts, it’s always nice to have options and see if someone will give you a monster haul in return for a draft pick.

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