The Falcons and the rest of the league are a week away from the NFL draft, but a bomb was dropped on Wednesday when Jeff Darlington reported that Deebo Samuel officially requested a trade from the 49ers. The former South Carolina Gamecock reportedly “wants to move on” and “has put a halt to everything for right now,” even though John Lynch and the San Fran front office were ready to move forward with contract negotiations.
Reports indicate that Samuel doesn’t want to play a hybrid role and would rather be a more traditional receiver. However, the most significant factor in him being so valuable and worth close to $30 million AAV is his ability to threaten defenses as a running back and pass catcher. It makes sense for Samuel to prolong his professional career this way, but he severely undercuts his value by stating these desires.
Another point being made about Samuel’s request to be traded from San Francisco is the inclination to play closer to home, according to Adam Schefter. Samuel is from Inman, South Carolina, which is less than three hours away from Atlanta.
From Wednesday’s NFL Live: one of the central factors that could be driving Deebo Samuel’s desire to be traded away from San Francisco. pic.twitter.com/D83XEsQx41
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 21, 2022
Obviously, this isn’t the defining factor in determining where Samuel will play in 2022, but it does benefit the Falcons. Atlanta currently boasts one of the worst receiving cores in the league. Should they pursue the disgruntled star? And what are the odds the Falcons actually land him?
Trading for Samuel will require parting ways with several valuable draft picks as well as a lucrative, long-term deal. I don’t necessarily believe the Falcons are in a position to trade away any picks for any position that isn’t a premium position — quarterback, EDGE, etc. The Falcons aren’t one Deebo Samuel away from competing, even if it will kickstart the rebuild, and it’s not wise to build a roster from the outside in. Building out is much more sustainable.
Paying Samuel is also another hurdle the Falcons would have to climb, but it’s not as big of a deal as the compensation. Handing a receiver/running back $30 million AAV will never be my cup of tea, but the Falcons will be able to afford it going forward.
The team’s total cap liabilities are estimated to be just under $89 million next offseason, which puts them in a position to be big spenders come the spring of 2023. With the league’s salary cap estimated to rise to $220-225 million in 2023, the Falcons should have between $131-136 million in cap space. That’s plenty of room to fit Samuel’s new contract under.
The logistics would work out, but the team’s timeline doesn’t warrant trading for a player like Samuel. Atlanta doesn’t have a long-term solution at quarterback, and Marcus Mariota is in no position to lead this subpar roster to the playoffs. You can always find weapons before a signal caller, but I’d argue that money would be better spent on pass rushers and offensive linemen in free agency next spring.
Still, the prospect of a player like Samuel with Cordarrelle Patterson and Kyle Pitts in Arthur Smith’s offense is extremely enticing. The first-time head coach has already proven with Patterson that he can accentuate Samuel’s skillset.
- Jets +400 (20%)
- Colts +600 (14.29%)
- Falcons +800 (11.11%)
- Saints +800 (11.11%)
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