The Falcons began their inevitable rebuild yesterday by dealing away beloved wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the Patriots for a second-round pick. Sanu is an extremely valuable piece to a winning team, but not a 1-6 squad with two star receivers already rostered. It was a deal Thomas Dimitroff had to pull the trigger on, even if he will not be the general manager at the time of the selection this spring.
So, what’s next for the Falcons?
In short, a firesale. Atlanta has already been rumored to be shopping edge rusher Vic Beasley. And while there may not be many teams interested in the lackluster sack artist, he’s far from the only player on the block. According to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, the Falcons remain a team worth keeping an eye on. They still have a lot of talent and are intent on clearing out their roster while adding whatever draft picks they can and opening up cap space for 2020. Names to watch include Desmond Trufant and Alex Mack.
Falcons remain a team to watch ahead of next week's deadline. Over weekend was getting the sense they would be willing to do what's necessary (i.e. eat some salary) to move guys like Trufant, Beasley, Mack to get picks and clear out cap/cash for 2020. Very top-heavy roster
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) October 22, 2019
Trufant, while once viewed as one of the top cornerbacks in the league, has not performed like one in a few years, which will make dealing him complicated. He still has three years left on his contract following 2019 and is owed $15 million annually. At a lower price tag, he would garner gobs of interest, but I’m not sure any team is going to want to take on that type of financial burden, hoping Trufant will return to form in their defensive system. It’s not out of the realm of possibility, but it does seem unlikely. If the Falcons were able to find a taker, it would open a ton of options for them this offseason.
Finding a trade partner for Alex Mack is a lot more plausible. The center has made the Pro-Bowl in all of his three seasons with the Falcons and is under contract through 2020. Mack is having his worst year by far in red and black, but he’s still been serviceable and his track record speaks for itself. There will be plenty of teams looking for interior offensive line help that will be prodding the Falcons for Mack’s services. The most significant obstacle in a potential deal would be Atlanta’s lack of a backup, but considering they are going nowhere this year, they could find someone to fill in the rest of the way, even if it is a substantial downgrade.
One name Canfora did not mention is Austin Hooper. The Pro-Bowl tight end is having a career year in 2019 and is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. If the Falcons could collect an extra pick for Hooper’s services, it might be worth it to consider dealing him. However, according to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, management believes they have the room to re-sign Hooper this offseason. The Falcons will likely have to be blown away by an offer to trade him, especially since they would receive a compensation pick if he were to go elsewhere in free agency.
Outside of the players, the coaches are next. Arthur Blank stated earlier in the season that he would wait until the bye week before making any changes. He wanted to see if this team could turn things around under the current regime. Well, the bye week is next week, and things have only gotten worse. Following this Sunday’s game against Seattle, Dan Quinn will likely be terminated, and whoever is named interim head coach will not be retained at the end of the year.
The final decision Blank has to make is on the GM, Thomas Dimitroff. Dimitroff has earned a ton of respect around the league, but his moves of late are just as responsible for the Falcons 1-6 start as the coaches or the players. He’s drafted miserably the last couple of years and opted to keep around players such as Vic Beasley for $13 million rather than explore the free-agent market. Perhaps Dimitroff will be able to lay some of that blame on Quinn, who also had a hand in personnel decisions, and keep his job, but I have a feeling Mr. Blank is going to want to clean house this offseason, which means Dimitroff might have one foot out the door as well.
2019 will go down as one of the most frustrating years in franchise history. And this is the NFL – when that happens – heads start to roll. It began with Mohamed Sanu and will keep going until Arthur Blank makes a decision on Thomas Dimitroff at the end of the season.