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Did The Falcons Leak Their Interest In Trading Up For Clowney?

A weird thing happened Monday morning. Not one, but two reports from top NFL reporters saying the Atlanta Falcons have real interest in trading for the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. The strength and similarity of these reports leads to one serious question: did the Falcons leak this info to get movement on a potential trade?

Clowney dishes out free hugs.
Clowney dishes out free hugs.
Mike Ehrmann

OK everyone. This may come as sounding a bit crazy. Hold on to your butts. Dave had a very good idea Monday morning.

In fact, Dave expertly turned a great idea into an awkward situation with Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Lets take a look at the timeline of Clowneygate on Monday.

Peter King, when not talking about baseball, has the occasional football gem. At about 2 A.M. Monday morning, King had this to say about the Falcons.

Momentum is gaining for the Atlanta Falcons to move up for Jadeveon Clowney. Not saying it’s going to happen; I’d list the odds at 40 percent. But if the Texans want to trade the No. 1 pick, the Falcons, as of this morning, are their best option. When Clowney visited Atlanta last week, he left a very positive impression with the Falcons’ coaches and brass. I’d heard before that meeting that the Falcons weren’t inclined to entertain thoughts about making such a bold move, from sixth pick in the first round to No. 1 overall. Now they are thinking of it. . . . To move from six to one, it would likely take Atlanta’s first-rounder this year and next—at least that would be close if you’re using the draft pick-trade chart.

At around 6 A.M. (get some sleep, the Falcoholic staff doesn't roll out of bed until noon, and that is only when we have to work) Rap Sheet said the Falcons are looking to move up anywhere from the first pick to the fourth pick, but could also move back.

So Atlanta would consider trading up. Probably in the top four. But could also trade back. And no one else is likely to be bidding heavily for the first overall pick.

Did the Falcons leak this news?

One report could mean any number of things. Two similar reports likely means one team is drumming up interest for a trade. And since these reports don't say multiple teams are interested in the top pick, Atlanta seems to be the only logical source of this information.

The more I think about it, the more the Texans appear to be stuck with a draft class that poorly fits their desperate need for a quarterback. The Texans have Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is surrounded by an otherwise very talented football team. The Texans could always take Clowney and add to an already nasty defensive line.

Sure. But realistically, the only team that has recently drafted a quarterback who started in their rookie season without a real starter is the Cincinnati Bengals, and I'm not sure if Andy Dalton should be considered a rousing success.

The Texans cannot hope for a later-round quarterback.

Can the Texans hope to hit on a later-round selection like Russell Wilson or an eventual starter like Colin Kaepernick? That seems like an unrealistic hope. Odds are more likely following in the footsteps of the Cleveland Browns, trading back up in the first for Brady Quinn or waiting for Brandon Weeden.

The Texans lack the needs that would allow them to fill another major need while passing on a quarterback. The problem for Houston is they need to draft a quarterback in the first round or hope they are bad enough to be back in the top of the draft for another year after letting their fans know 2014 will be a mulligan.

The Texans won't get top value.

The lack of elite quarterbacks will keep teams from trading up. For example, the Washington Redskins traded their 2012 6th overall selection, 2013 22nd overall selection, 2014 2nd overall selection (that stings) and 2012 39th overall selection for the 2nd overall selection in 2012. That was pretty expensive to move up four spots but this is a quarterback-driven league. Unless you can luck out like the Denver Broncos, you can't get a franchise guy in the offseason.

Last year with no quarterbacks? The Miami Dolphins traded the 12th and 39th overall pick for the 3rd overall pick so they could select Dion Jordan. That is drastically different and can show you the difference of bidding against no one and bidding against the Browns to get a guy who should be able to be your franchise quarterback.

If the Texans trade down, they are low on options.

I'm not sure if there is any player, outside of Clowney, worth trading up to the top spot for. Teams like the Rams, Browns or Bucs don't have a need to trade up for Clowney, while a team like the Raiders are pretty far away from one trade up from being a playoff team.

A team aggressive enough to trade up that could use a pass rusher, such as the San Francisco 49ers, likely wouldn't trade all the way up to the first overall selection.

Seriously, I cannot think of another legitimate option who could be in a bidding war with Atlanta.

The Falcons are sending a message.

I hate to say it, but Dave had a point. Glenn Dorsey is awesome. There is a point behind these reports. The Falcons are letting the Texans know that Thomas Dimitroff has options: trade up to one, two, three, four, or even trade back. Also, the Falcons know the Texans don't have other options, and Atlanta won't bid against themselves. The Falcons don't seem to fear the Texans will take Clowney, as the reports don't even mention Khalil Mack or even a potential tackle selection.

The Falcons seem willing to bet that the Texans are selecting a quarterback who will be available at the sixth selection, no one else is willing to offer anything close to Atlanta's offer, and the Falcons will smartly not bid against themselves.

Whether a deal happens or not, whether the  final trade value is worth Clowney, or if Clowney ends up meeting expectations, is another issue entirely. Dimitroff is clearly willing to make a bold move for a top player in this draft class.