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Falcons trade LB Duke Riley for Eagles S Jonathan Cyprien

It’s a shocking, out-of-left-field trade for a team in need of safety help.

Philadelphia Eagles v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

The Falcons lost Keanu Neal for the year, and they figured to make some kind of move to replace him. After working out free agent safeties and rolling with Kemal Ishmael for the week, they’ve decided on a move that is shocking because it came out of nowhere: A trade.

The Falcons picked up safety Johnathan Cyprien in the deal, surrendering Duke Riley. There’s a swap of picks that slightly favors the Eagles, which makes sense because the Falcons are getting the more established player in the deal.

Cyprien, 29, had been a reserve in Philadelphia. He was a longtime starter in the AFC South, spending time with the Jaguars and Titans, before tearing his ACL in August 2018 and missing the entire season. He hasn’t had a real role on defense in Philadelphia, but his past history suggests he can contribute against the run, but he’s never been above average player when it comes to coverage. His 2017 season did not rate well with Pro Football Focus, so the Falcons will be hoping he’s the best possible version of himself here. He’ll likely step into a reserve role to start, especially with Kemal Ishmael enjoying a fairly solid Week 4 against the Titans. We’ll see what Dan Quinn has to say in the days ahead.

In Riley (and, you know, that sixth round pick) Philadelphia tries to shore up a linebacker groups and special teams unit that could use a bit of help. Riley had taken on a ton of special teams snaps the last two seasons and did a nice job in that role, but his role on defense had diminished to almost nothing after he lost his job to Foye Oluokun last season. Riley’s always had interesting athleticism and upside but hasn’t put it together to this point, but he’s still a young player in his third season, and is a worthwhile gamble for the Eagles. We wish him well with his new team.

What are your thoughts concerning this new and frankly surprising trade?