Yesterday, the Falcons filled their open roster spot by snatching running back Terrence Magee away from the Browns. That was an important move, because it gave the Falcons three backs while Devonta Freeman is in the league’s concussion protocol. It’s also important because if past history is any indication, Magee is basically destined to be a good player for Atlanta.
Consider the weird Atlanta-to-Cleveland pipeline that has been so fruitful for the Falcons of late. Even if you toss away the fateful Julio Jones trade that was such a disaster for the Browns and so terrific for the Falcons, Atlanta’s been able to snag quality former Cleveland players over and over again in recent years. That includes Austin Pasztor, one of their current swing tackles, and Ahtyba Rubin, more recently of the Seahawks.
The names that matter, of course, are Alex Mack and Taylor Gabriel. The Falcons signed Mack away from Cleveland and he’s been one of the best centers in football each of the last two seasons, as he was for the Browns. Gabriel was cut loose by the Browns and has since become one of the Falcons’ most explosive playmakers, even if his usage has been a trouble spot in 2017.
This is the same kind of pipeline the Falcons used to have with the Jaguars under Mike Smith, and it certainly made sense that Atlanta would dip into the Cleveland well given that Kyle Shanahan spent time there. The fact they’re continuing to do so post-Shanny suggests that Cleveland, for all its obvious failings, still is finding and fielding enough talent for Atlanta to want to vulture. That’s a small sort of compliment, albeit one I’m sure the Browns would like us to stop giving them.