Terry Fontenot asked how Falcons view potential trade target Justin Fields

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The Falcons quest for a quarterback is going to dominate storylines this offseason.

When you’ve had guys like Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, and Taylor Heinicke under center following a decade-plus of Matt Ryan, it’s about time to make a sizeable investment in the position.

A third-round pick and a couple of measly free agent contracts aren’t going to get it done in today’s NFL. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to acquire a franchise quarterback, but the Falcons have to be done with half measures at the position.

The roster is ready to compete right now, and what Terry Fontenot and Raheem Morris do to fill the quarterback void will be the single biggest factor in the team’s success in 2024.

The options aren’t as robust as they were thought to be a few months ago, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer out there. The draft features intriguing talent, some of which would require the Falcons to trade up. The free agent market offers veterans that can step in and immediately make the team favorites in the NFC South.

There is seemingly only one option outside of the draft that can help the team compete in 2024 but also potentially be the long-term answer — Justin Fields. I’m skeptical of the fit in Zac Robinson’s offense; however, to deny his ceiling and the overall landscape of the quarterback market would just be foolish.

In an interview with Steve Wyche and James Palmer, Fontenot was asked about the Falcons potential trade target.

“Can a player like Justin Fields show enough evolution in the first couple years of his career, and you now have a coaching change, maybe there’s a different philosophy to make you change your mind about going and getting a player like him,” Wyche asked.

“You know we can’t talk about players on other rosters. If I answer that question, I’m going to get a call, my cell phone is right there and Ken Fiore is going to call me right away and we’re going to have tampering,” Fontenot remarked. “I’m talking about how excited we are about this draft, we’re going to lose a draft pick if I answer that question.”

Obviously, Fontenot cannot get into the details just yet, but the Falcons GM did provide a sliver of insight into the process of evaluating a guy like Justin Fields after Wyche rephrased his question.

“Can a player then who maybe you didn’t select in a draft and you had an opportunity, can they evolve over a couple of years, you’re like ‘okay this player is better than what I thought and he fits what we’re trying to do,'” Wyche questioned.

“That’s why you evaluate players at every point in their career, and that’s why it’s so critical as we go through free agency and possible trades. We’re evaluating every player, you’re never going to look at a report from last year or the year before. We’re going to look at the evolution of the player,” Fontenot responded.

Justin Fields hasn’t been supported the way most franchise quarterbacks have been. The Bears have done him no favors in his three seasons, cycling through offensive coordinators, putting together porous offensive lines and providing next to nothing in skill players.

2023 was the best situation Fields has been in since entering the league. D.J. Moore and an average, at best, line gave Fields more support than he’s ever had, and it’s not a coincidence that he put together his best season.

The Falcons passed over Fields in favor of Kyle Pitts during the 2021 NFL Draft. They also passed over Raheem Morris three years ago, and now he’s the head coach entering the 2024 season. The same could happen with Justin Fields.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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