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One trade we would make right now: A swap with the hated Saints for Hau’oli Kikaha

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The Falcons get a linebacker who can rush the passer, and likely for cheap.

NFL: New England Patriots at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Every NFL blog on SB Nation right now is taking the time to think of a trade that would improve their roster. For some teams, the answer is obvious, but the Falcons proved to be a little more challenging than I anticipated. I tried to limit myself to realistic trades that wouldn’t put the Falcons way over the cap or prove to be a bad fit, and I tried not to give in to the temptation to add any shiny toy for an offense that doesn’t really need it. More on that in a few.

The Falcons have a deep rotation of pass rushers, sure, but they’re increasingly thin at linebacker, with LaRoy Reynolds working his way back and Duke Riley on the shelf. They’re trotting out Kemal Ishmael, Sean Weatherspoon, Jordan Tripp, and Jermaine Grace right now alongside De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones. An upgrade there—possibly with a player who could also help a pass rush that has been extremely inconsistent over the last couple of weeks—would be welcome.

The Saints are reportedly looking to deal Kikaha, a situational pass rusher with quality athleticism who could slot right in on the weak side for the Falcons and play some defensive end as needed. Kikaha has dealt with injuries that have limited him to just 20 career games since he was drafted in the second round back in 2015, but he’s got six sacks in that span, appears to be healthy now, and probably isn’t going to cost you more than a fifth round pick to add. If you can get over your distaste for making trades with the Saints, I think it’s a sensible move with some real upside. Kikaha is only 25, after all, and could be a part of the team’s defensive end and linebacker corps in a year when the likes of Adrian Clayborn, LaRoy Reynolds, and Kemal Ishmael will be free agents.

Why not the offensive side of the ball? Because I still remain convinced that the Falcons aren’t struggling due to a lack of quality players on that side of things, and that adding another receiver is going to do little more than muddle a complicated target picture until the Falcons figure out how to get guys open and get them targets. They’re already actively neglecting quality targets in-house on a regular basis, the offensive line isn’t lack for decent starters, quarterback is set, and they have the best one-two punch at running back in the NFL. It’s about execution and planning on that side of the ball, not a trade.

It may not be the most inspiring choice, but I think Kikaha would prove to be a quality addition for a Falcons defense that could still use a little more talent at linebacker and a little more oomph rushing the passer. Eager to hear your thoughts, and let me know who you’d trade for.


NFL trades that should happen before the deadline