It would be an understatement to say that the Falcons have had a disappointing start to the 2019 season. Many of us were predicting 10-6 or better for an Atlanta roster that was healthier and more talented than 2018. The offense should’ve been top-5 at worst, and the defense was allegedly going to improve. Fast forward to Week 7, and the Falcons are sitting at 1-5 with arguably the worst defense in the NFL—only the tanking Dolphins can really challenge them at this point.
That has led many to consider the future of the team, because 2019 is extremely unlikely to be a competitive season. One of those is Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr, who recently wrote a piece discussing buyers and sellers at the upcoming NFL Trade Deadline—October 29, for those who are unaware.
Orr, as you might have guessed, sees the Falcons as a logical seller in this scenario. The two players he views as the best trade values are EDGE Vic Beasley and TE Austin Hooper.
I wholeheartedly agree that the Falcons should trade Beasley if they can. He has been a disaster in 2019 and has virtually no chance of earning another contract from this team. Unfortunately, his terrible play and high cost—approximately $8M remains of his $12.8M fifth-year option—make Beasley very difficult to move. Perhaps some team with plenty of cap space will think they can salvage him, but I wouldn’t expect more than a late Day 3 pick at this point.
Austin Hooper is a lot more realistic, at least in terms of being a valuable trade asset. He’s very affordable: his entire 2019 cap number is only $2.21M, with about $1.38M remaining for the final ten games. Hooper has also played very well this season, unlike Beasley. He’d essentially be a one-year rental on a cheap contract, but his high level of play and low cap charge could potentially still net a third round pick in return. However, I don’t think the Falcons plan to part ways with Hooper—I believe he’ll get a long-term deal to stay with the team in 2020.
One name that wasn’t mentioned that I believe to be an even more interesting trade chip is WR Mohamed Sanu. Sanu has played well in 2019, but is clearly a tertiary piece in the offense with Julio, Ridley, Hooper, and Freeman dominating targets in the passing game. If the team was winning, I’d keep him as depth and to make the offense even more difficult to stop. But as it stands now, he’s not going to significantly help this team make the playoffs at 1-5.
Sanu is under contract through 2020, which would give the team trading for him an additional year of control. While his cap hit is steep for a WR3 in Atlanta, it’ll be less for whoever trades for him, as the final two years of his contract include $1.4M each in prorated signing bonus (which the Falcons have already paid). That means his 2019 cap charge would only be $3.75M for the remaining ten games, and $6.5M in 2020. Both are reasonable numbers for someone who could probably be a WR2 on some teams.
It’s unclear what Sanu would fetch on the trade market at this point, but a fourth round pick would be an offer I would take. He’s likely to be a cap casualty for the Falcons in 2020 anyway, so getting something back for him in a lost season makes both financial and draft capital sense. We also heard some buzz in the preseason that Sanu may have been on the trade block already. If that was true, that buzz should be heating up again as we approach the October 29 deadline.
Are there any players who you think the Falcons should try to trade at the deadline? If so, what kind of compensation would you be looking for in return?