The case for and against Justin Fields to the Falcons

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The Falcons will be upgrading the quarterback position this offseason. Even with a bright offensive coordinator in Zac Robinson following Raheem Morris to Atlanta, no coach can overcome the deficiencies that Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke displayed this past season and expect sustained success.

The first step to fixing a problem is realizing there is one. That’s the easy part of the dilemma; the more difficult aspect is finding a competent quarterback this offseason.

The options aren’t as robust as they seemed a couple of months ago. If three quarterbacks are taken with the first three picks in the draft, that would leave J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix Jr potentially on the board for the Falcons at eight. Atlanta very well may be fond of one of those options, but expecting them to be the Week 1 starter is a bit far-fetched.

Unfortunately, the options in free agency aren’t much better. It’s very possible, maybe even likely that Baker Mayfield and Kirk Cousins ink contracts with their current teams, leaving guys like Russell Wilson and Ryan Tannehill as the best remaining options on the market. Neither of them is the long-term answer to the Falcons problem, and I’m not even sure Morris and Robinson would be interested in them on a one or two-year deal.

That leaves the trade market, where there’s really only one potential target. Justin Fields has been linked to the Falcons for a while, and DraftKings even has Atlanta as the favorite to acquire him if he doesn’t remain in Chicago. This is a storyline that will only intensify if the Bears make it clear they will trade him, but does Justin Fields really make much sense for the Falcons?

The Case For Justin Fields To The Falcons

The best case for Justin Fields to the Falcons may just be that he’s the only competent option available. As mentioned in the introduction, all of the best available quarterbacks could be taken in the draft and free agency without the Falcons even having a chance. If the Falcons don’t like the next tier of quarterbacks in the draft class and Russell Wilson isn’t their cup of tea, Fields is far and away their best shot at being competitive in 2024.

The most enticing aspect of acquiring Justin Fields, however, is the upside. Over the last several years, the mobile quarterback movement has taken over the NFL, and Fields’ ability to make plays with his legs is second to none. His accuracy as a passer leaves something to be desired, but he has jaw-dropping arm talent, capable of making throws only a few quarterbacks in the league can replicate.

With a creative offensive coordinator like Zac Robinson and an embarrassment of riches around him at the skill positions, one could argue Fields would be in a perfect situation to realize his full potential. That wasn’t the case in Chicago, where for much of his three seasons with the Bears, he was learning a new offense with a porous offensive line and no weapons. There’s no questioning Atlanta is a much better situation for quarterbacks than Chicago has been since Fields was drafted.

The Case Against Justin Fields To The Falcons

The case against Justin Fields to the Falcons begins with the asking price. Most expect Fields to at least garner a second-round pick in return, probably more, and some even believe a team could be willing to move a first-round pick. The Falcons hold the 8th overall pick in the draft. Sending that to the Bears for Fields is not an option. The Falcons had a chance to take Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft; they passed, and nothing Fields has done to this point has made that look like a mistake.

Fields’ pending contract situation is also an issue. Whoever trades for him will have to immediately make a decision on his fifth-year option. They then will have to decide quickly if they want to extend him. If Fields turns out to be the guy, this isn’t a massive speed bump, but there’s a lot of risk in handing him a contract extension, just look at what the Giants did with Daniel Jones a year ago.

However, the biggest arguing point against the Falcons trading for Justin Fields is his potential fit in Zac Robinson’s offense. Raheem Morris likened Robinson to Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. It doesn’t take much to figure out those guys have a type, accurate quarterbacks that get the ball out on time — Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Brock Purdy, etc. Justin Fields is not that kind of player, and even with considerable improvement, he’s not going to be that type of player.

Justin Fields to the Falcons feels like it’s going to come down to two things — the options available and Zac Robinson’s belief that he can tailor an offense around him. The latter is much more important. There’s a high probability Fields is the best option if the Falcons want to compete over the next couple of seasons. At that point, Morris and Robinson will have to decide if they can see a future with him under center. If Robinson feels like he can accentuate what Fields does well, there’s a great chance he ends up under center for his hometown team.

Photographer: Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire


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