The NFL trade deadline is less than a week away, and teams are gearing up for what could be one of the busier deadlines in recent years. Another exciting factor in this year’s deadline is the Falcons are actually in a position to buy instead of selling.
Atlanta sits atop the NFC South in sole possession of first place after leaving Tampa Bay with a victory and could look to bolster the defensive front for a playoff push. Here are a few potential targets for the Falcons, in order of least likely to most likely.
DE Danielle Hunter, Vikings
I know Falcons fans want Hunter, who is proving to be one of the best pass rushers in 2023, but it’s extremely unlikely. He will be the most sought-after potential trade candidate, and Atlanta isn’t one Danielle Hunter away from winning the Super Bowl, which is what every decision should be measured against. With that being said, there’s a reality where the Falcons do acquire Hunter, but it’s only with the intention of handing him the lucrative contract extension that he’s seeking. The same could be said for our next two candidates.
DE Montez Sweat & Chase Young, Commanders
This seems a little more likely than Hunter because of Kyle Smith’s connections to Washington. Sweat and Young could be on the move this trade deadline. Given the compensatory picks that they’re likely to inherit if they part ways in free agency, the Falcons will have to make it worth the Commanders’ while. Regardless of the compensation, the same that was said for Hunter can be said in this scenario. The Falcons shouldn’t be calling Martin Mayhew without the intention of handing Sweat or Young a contract extension.
DE Carl Lawson, Jets
Lawson coming to Atlanta is more likely than Hunter, Sweat or Young. The Falcons could ask the Jets about his availability, but it seems like he’ll be moved. New York has more pass rushers than they know what to do with, and Lawson will sign elsewhere in free agency. The Jets might as well recoup some draft capital in the process.
DE Denico Autry, Titans
This might be an under-the-radar move that ends up paying dividends. The Titans seem to be selling off pieces as they look toward 2024, and Autry could be next. So far this year, the versatile veteran has four sacks and nine quarterback hits. Even though he’s 33 years old, he clearly has some gas left in the tank, and I would love it if the Falcons bolstered the front with him.
DL Kentavious Street, Eagles
This is a name that I haven’t seen enough of. Street is familiar with Ryan Nielsen and Terry Fontenot from their time in New Orleans, and the Eagles are similarly positioned as the Jets with their defensive line depth. Putting Street in a rotation with Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata could be just what the doctor ordered if the price is right, which I don’t expect to be too high.
DT Andrew Billings, Bears
The Falcons – Bears pipeline can continue with a Billings trade that would improve an already stout run defense. The Falcons could use another body to rotate with Jarrett and Onyemata to keep them fresh for the long haul. When it comes to defensive linemen, you can never have too many. Billings has been great for the Bears, so I’m not sure they’d be inclined to move him unless they don’t plan on re-signing him this offseason.
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