In hindsight, Terry Fontenot traded Falcons legends at the right time

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The Falcons traded away two of the biggest names in franchise history in the new regime’s first two offseasons, and in hindsight, Terry Fontenot couldn’t have traded the legends at a better time.

In the new regime’s first offseason at the helm, Atlanta traded Julio Jones for a second-rounder that ended up becoming Troy Andersen. The Titans released Julio Jones earlier this year after just one season following the blockbuster deal, effectively making Atlanta the winner of the trade. 

When Jones forced his way out of Atlanta, the Falcons were left to pick up the pieces and salvage what they could — netting second and fourth-round picks. For Tennessee, it seemed Jones would be the missing piece. Well, that never came to fruition. The Titans could not advance in the playoffs this past year (similarly to the prior postseason appearance), losing at home after their first-round bye.

Jones had the worst statistical season of his career, totaling 31 receptions for 434 yards and only one touchdown. Those numbers are even worse than his 2013 campaign, when he only played five games. The all-time Falcons receiver went un-signed for much of the offseason but landed with the Buccaneers and joined Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Once again, he’s struggled with soft tissue injuries and hasn’t really made an impact. Even if it wasn’t Fontenot’s initial decision and Jones requested the trade, the first-time general manager was still able to net some valuable assets in hindsight.

However, more recently, the higher profile trade was Matt Ryan heading to Indianapolis to take over for Carson Wentz. At the time, the Colts and people around the league felt the roster was a quarterback away from competing for a Super Bowl.

On the surface, many analysts and media pundits believed the Colts got the better of the Falcons after netting a measly third-rounder for Ryan. However, just as Jones has aged and declined physically, Ryan is 37 years old and has inarguably lost arm strength.

Fast forward to today, and it seems the Falcons have once again come out on top after news broke the Colts would be benching Ryan in favor of Sam Ehlinger for the rest of the season — what could be an incredibly sad ending to an illustrious career.

The veteran signal caller totaled over 2,000 yards passing, nine touchdowns and as many interceptions — leading the league in interceptions. The offensive line has been horrendous and is not the unit Ryan thought he was signing up for — leading the league in sacks allowed. Ryan has led the Colts to a 3-3-1 record, but there’s no question things have been a lot worse than their record indicates. His arm strength has diminished dramatically, and he has absolutely no help with the run game.

Troy Andersen and DeAngelo Malone are the players the acquired picks turned into, so we won’t know for a couple of seasons how the trade really shook out. Malone ironically notched his first career sack this past Sunday against the Bengals and looks to be a future piece of the defensive rotation. Andersen has been a special teams mainstay and flashed at times for the defense. However, this season will be about learning for Andersen and next season will be his coming out party. Still, at this point, Terry Fontenot deserves some credit for moving off both Matt Ryan and Julio Jones at the right time.

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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