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Will Robert Alford be a trade target for other NFL teams?

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The veteran cornerback could be an attractive trade piece, though there’s no indication Atlanta’s going to move him.

NFL: San Diego Chargers at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN put together a list of a single player from each NFL team who could be traded this year, and Vaughn McClure made an interesting choice for the Falcons.

There are two angles to consider here. The first is that contrary to his sometimes mixed reputation in the fanbase, Alford is perceived leaguewide as a quality, athletic cornerback who sometimes battles with discipline. He’s under 30 years old, he’s proven himself capable of making big plays and hanging with quality receivers, and he’ll command a nice contract in the open market. If a team can get him for the back half of this year to help their cornerback corps and potentially get a leg up on re-signing him, that could very well be worth the investment. Quality cornerbacks do not grow on trees.

The other angle is that the Falcons don’t seem particularly likely to keep Alford. With a Jake Matthews (and perhaps Ryan Schraeder) contract coming up, Desmond Trufant likely to command big money, and Devonta Freeman edging closer to his first big payday, the Falcons just aren’t going to have enough money to keep everyone around and still make additions at key positions of need. They’ve got Jalen Collins, last year’s second round pick, plus promising UDFA Brian Poole and converted wide receiver C.J. Goodwin, who has had flashes. That’s a quality set of four guys if everything breaks right, and the Falcons are not going to choose Alford over Trufant, so it certainly makes sense to consider the possibility that Alford will leave.

The Falcons would need to get value for Alford if they were to do this, which I would say would need to involve at least a third round pick, and I’m sure they’d like more than that. Teams can be stingy with draft picks when they’re not gunning for the likes of Sam Bradford, so that would work against any potential deal.

I don’t think a trade will happen, both because the Falcons haven’t been particularly keen on mid-season deals in recent years and because Alford is a valuable contributor for a team that has their eyes on a playoff berth. Out of of all the players the team could trade, if they were so inclined, Alford still probably makes the most sense.