Many expected the Atlanta Falcons to be big sellers ahead of the NFL’s trade deadline. After all, the team already moved Mohamed Sanu. Sanu’s trade worked for everyone involved: The Falcons were guaranteed to cut him in the offseason for cap purposes, Sanu heads to a playoff team, and Atlanta gets an extra second-round selection.
With some other big veterans likely gone in the offseason and 2019 in the toilet, there is almost no reason to keep a handful of aging veterans. Running back Devonta Freeman, who has been healthy but struggling, is among those names.
If the Falcons could get anything for Freeman, they have to take it, right?
An intriguing would-be trade that was heavily discussed over the past week, but didn’t end up happening: #Falcons RB Devonta Freeman to the #Lions. DET inquired, the sides talked about a possible deal at length, but ultimately, Atlanta just decided they didn’t want to trade him.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 30, 2019
What a bewildering decision. The team may have their eye on his pass blocking skills that may help keep Matt Ryan alive, but he will not be eligible for a compensatory pick if cut. However, there are still two big issues here.
First, the Falcons could have cleared Freeman’s remaining base salary. With a team so desperately against the cap, unloading his remaining eight games would give more breathing room in future years.
Second, and even more importantly, the Falcons have five running backs on the roster. That is too many running backs, especially for a team with a terrible run game. Brian Hill is finally getting a few snaps, but fifth-round selection Qadree Ollison has not received a single touch, let alone a single active game.
Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn are unlikely to be around in 2020, so their replacements will be making roster decisions on players who last took snaps in preseason. Is Ollison good? Where can he fit? Will they need to replace him? Is he similar to Hill or can they both exist in the same backfield? It is insane to give an ineffective Freeman heavy snaps in place of young players full of potential.
We have spent years doing mental summersaults trying to explain some of this front office’s decisions. Those confusing decisions almost never work out. This is another bad move from an organization that consistently refuses to make the smart decision.