Realistically, the Falcons are probably not going to make a blockbuster move before Tuesday’s trade deadline. If they make a move at all, it will be to shore up their depth at a key position like defensive tackle, tight end or linebacker. Knowing these Falcons, though, a deadline deal isn’t in the cards.
That doesn’t mean we can’t daydream, as we do most years. This year, SB Nation threw an interesting suggestion out for this Atlanta team, one that would help solve one of their most persistent issues and give them a truly fearsome defensive interior. That move is a trade for Geno Atkins, the gifted Bengals defensive tackle who has 56 career sacks.
Fortunately, there’s one playoff-ready team in dire need of a sack creator like Atkins. Atlanta ranks just 17th in the NFL in sack percentage, a step down from the rejuvenated defense that led the franchise to a postseason surge. On Sunday, the Falcons struggled to take advantage of an inconsistent Patriots offense line, allowing Tom Brady the time to carve up the secondary with long drives.
A rotation of Grady Jarrett, Dontari Poe, Ahtyba Rubin and Atkins would be pretty nuts, with Courtney Upshaw also available to spell them. Upshaw, Poe and Rubin all will need new contracts after 2017, but Atkins is entering his age 30 season and is under contract for 2018. He and Jarrett, paired with Vic Beasley and whoever has the hot hand opposite him, would be very difficult to contain for your average defensive line. In many ways, it would be a deeply logical trade for Atlanta, and if the Bengals got back a quality draft selection, it would be for Cincinnati too.
Of course, the obstacles here are myriad, and include the cost of Atkins’ contract, the cost it would take to pry him away from the only NFL team he has ever known, and the fact that the Falcons probably feel like they have bigger fish to fry than taking more snaps away from Dontari Poe, even if he’s had an up-and-down season thus far. It’s almost certainly not going to happen, but I’ll be honest: I’d be thrilled if it did.