With the Falcons at 1-4 and basically looking at every game on the schedule in the foreseeable future as “must win,” the buzzing around the Falcons beehive wonders if the trade deadline might come into play.
Historically, the Falcons are mum around this time of year, even when they’re fielding a clear playoff team that might be a piece away from being perfect.
Whether it’s just GM Thomas Dimitroff’s general desire not to trade players in-season or just a routine of not being interested when the moment strikes, it’s been radio silence during the trade season of mid-October to early November traditionally for the Birds.
They’ve not had a season like this since 2014, where the wheels are falling off and the train heads nowhere fast, so one wonders in a more trade-happy NFL if the team could want to move anyone before the Oct. 30 deadline approaches.
RB Tevin Coleman
The first name that pops up would, of course, be RB Tevin Coleman, who has an expiring contract in March and who doesn’t appear to be destined to stick around with Devonta Freeman in the early parts of an extension and Ito Smith looking like a more-than-worthy successor.
There seems to be a rash of injuries spreading around the league right now at the running back position, and any playoff team would no doubt love to have Coleman on a rental basis. Though, this one feels unlikely, if only because we still have no idea if the Falcons aren’t secretly wanting to figure out a way to keep Coleman around.
Freeman’s health hasn’t been sterling in the time since his extension. That’s not to say it’ll stay that way, but it is something that makes you wonder what happens with the guaranteed money runs out on his extension. Do you really want to let Coleman walk and then have to release Freeman a year or two later because he’s struggled to stay on the field? If Free can’t get healthy, they’re reliant on Ito Smith and Brian Hill to get the job done.
Right now, it’d probably take a second or third rounder for Atlanta to even consider trading Coleman. They’re guaranteed at least a fourth in compensation if he walks, and they might want to see how Freeman’s 2018 progresses health-wise before they let him out the door for good. This feels highly unlikely unless a desperate team blows Atlanta away with an offer.
DE Vic Beasley
This is where things get interesting. It’s no secret that Vic Beasley isn’t having the best 2018, and that’s being said after an underwhelming 2017. We don’t know exactly what’s going on with Beasley right now, but he’s not getting consistent pressures or hits on the quarterbacks and his sack tally isn’t good enough for someone of his potential and past numbers.
The Falcons have a huge decision to make on Beasley’s fifth-year option. He’s due to make $12.8 million in 2019, and though I’m a Beasley fan and defender, the team just can’t pay that for what Beasley is doing at the moment. He’s invisible for roughly half the game, and really only gets four or five snaps an outing where he really looks like he’s close to making a play. That’s obviously not good enough, and really not good enough for one of the biggest cap hits on the team.
You hope he can figure it out and that he can get back to being the Beasley of old, but there is no doubt a probable playoff team out there (cough Los Angeles, Kansas City, New England, etc. cough) who could use some help off the edge.
As my colleague Matt Chambers noted, teams could get a look at what Beasley’s capable of through a half-season and playoffs and see if they want to kick in that fifth-year option. If not, they could release Beasley and he, no doubt, would find a new team to latch onto, being the 2016 sack leader and all and still having sky-high potential.
The Falcons could get that cap space back for the future with the deals they have coming up and could maybe get a third or fourth rounder in return.
A pass-rush needy team could see if a fifth or sixth rounder would be enough to snag DE Brooks Reed, though he’s right now the second-best pass rusher on the roster. DE Derrick Shelby feels more likely, as he’s on an expiring deal and is probably in his last year here. He could help someone in run support for certain. Soon-to-be free agent WR Justin Hardy could help a team that’s lacking at receiver (the Tennessee Titans immediately come to mind, as old Falcons QBs coach Matt LaFleur is their OC now).
Though, the team standing pat on trading TE Tony Gonzalez all those years ago to a contender after the 2013 season went haywire makes me wonder if that’s just not a future Dimitroff wants to see. It sends a message to the locker room when you trade a starter or valuable rotational piece mid-season, and not a good one at that.
One wonders if Atlanta will just choose to roll with what they’ve got through December (or, heck, maybe January if things really do get weird), even if someone comes calling.