The Atlanta Falcons have not been active on the trade market just yet, and they may not be. This has been an unusually active pre-free agency period for several other teams, though, including the Browns, who went absolutely nuts today.
Here’s what Cleveland did:
- Traded away Deshone Kizer to Green Bay for Damarious Randall, plus swapped picks in the fourth and fifth rounds
- Traded a third round pick to Buffalo for Tyrod Taylor
- Traded a fourth in 2018 and a seventh in 2019 to Miami for Jarvis Landry
Those moves are not game-changers for the Browns or their trading partners. The Dolphins got some middling draft selections in return for a receiver with a ton of production but with questions about how much of that had to do with target load and scheme. The Bills got a solid draft selection for Tyrod Taylor, but now have no option at quarterback worth mentioning and will have to draft one to even come close to sniffing the playoffs, and they did a crap job of appreciating Taylor this entire time.
The Packers trade is a bit more interesting. The Browns can take a flyer on a disappointing but well-regarded young corner, and the Packers get a long-term option to develop behind Aaron Rodgers. Kizer was brutally mishandled by Hue Jackson and company in Cleveland, but he has real talent and might benefit from some time behind the NFL’s best quarterback.
The Browns unquestionably upgraded at receiver, quarterback, and probably cornerback with these moves, setting them up to win some games in 2018. They’re still several pieces and maybe a coach away from doing more than that, but their arrow is at least pointed up.
What happened—and didn’t happen—in the NFC South was also worth mentioning.
The Panthers swapped cornerback Daryl Worley to the Eagles for receiver Torrey Smith. Worley wasn’t great last year, but he’s young and will have a chance to be a third or fourth cornerback for the Eagles, while Smith was clearly not a big part of the team’s plans. Smith is set to be a deep threat in Carolina, which lacked one in 2017 in a major way.
The problem with Smith, of course, is that he hasn’t been a great receiver in quite some time, and he’s had one good game and two solid games against the Falcons in his career. He’s not going to solve this team’s passing game woes, to put it mildly.
The Saints are edging really close to free agency without having signed Drew Brees. If he somehow wound up elsewhere, that would be pretty incredible, and would change the face of the NFC South.
The Bucs just gave a huge contract to Mike Evans, but he deserved every dollar and they have a ton of cap space. This one doesn’t really move the needle.
The NFC’s going to be tough again next year, especially with the Eagles and Rams stocking up, but the Falcons haven’t even begun to make moves yet. We’ll have to see what they do when free agency actually starts.