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Atlanta has reportedly discussed trading down in 2021 NFL Draft

SI’s Albert Breer expects the Falcons to stand pat, but Atlanta’s at least having the conversations.

2018 NFL Draft Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

We have more than three weeks left to go until the 2021 NFL Draft, and we’re just looking out for the table scraps of juicy information that fall from the hopefully sumptuous draft day meal Terry Fontenot and company are preparing for us so we can have some idea of what’s on the menu. Unfortunately for us, those scraps have been few and far between, but that may change a little bit as we draw closer to the big day.

Today, Albert Breer at Sports Illustrated reports something that had been rumored up to this point: That Atlanta’s had conversations about moving down from #4, though it’s hard to say how serious those discussions have been.

The first three picks are spoken for. And that leaves the Falcons as a team to watch—one that’s going to have to make a decision on its pick with some complicated finances at quarterback (due to all Matt Ryan’s restructures), and a team in need of cheaper young talent with which to surround its core. My guess has been that the Falcons will stick at No. 4 and take a quarterback, because I don’t think they want to count on picking that high again and this happens to be a really strong year at the position. But I do know they’re open to the idea of trading the pick and have had exploratory talks with other teams on a deal that would have someone else moving up to No. 4.

This report was backed up Tuesday by ultimate NFL insider Adam Schefter, who says basically the same thing but adds that the Falcons are mulling moving. With the report from Chris Mortensen yesterday that Terry Fontenot is leaning quarterback if the team stays at #4 and that Arthurt Smith believes Matt Ryan has 2+ years left, there’s either a lot of smoke billowing out of Flowery Branch right now or a lot of spirited discussion about the best course of action for the team. Hell, maybe both.

We had heard the Falcons were one of the teams the 49ers contacted before they leapfrogged Atlanta to grab the #3 pick and likely secure their quarterback of the future, so this could simply be a confirmation of that deal. But reading this closely, it appears they’ve spoken to teams plural to see what might be offered, which likely means quarterback-starved teams like the Broncos have reached out to at least see what the price is. The Falcons, who know the Panthers are at #8 absolutely salivating over a quarterback and possibly trading up as high as #5 to get one, can demand a king’s ransom to move away if that’s their desired path. The fact that Pitts and top quarterback options like Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Mac Jones could very well be gone by the time the Falcons line up at #9, to say nothing of later on, would presumably dampen the team’s enthusiasm for a move down if they’re at all interested in those prospects. You would expect them to be.

As we’ve said over and over again this offseason, the Falcons have many options available to them, and while the best reporting to this point suggests quarterback or Kyle Pitts at #4, we truly do not know what direction they’re going in. They’d be foolish not to at least see what a desperate team might give them to move up if they’re not completely wedded to a specific player at that #4 pick, but whether they actually make a move will likely depend on whether a team truly blows them away with an offer or not. Having your pick of the best non-quarterback on your board or a quarterback you may love at #4 is not something this team is likely to let go of freely.