There has been a rumor going around for a bit now that the Falcons were interested in adding wide receiver help. While it was pretty nebulous from what I saw, it was also a logical rumor, given that Atlanta’s receiver corps is one of the league’s thinnest groups.
Now we’re seeing there was truth underpinning that rumor, as the Falcons have made a trade with the Rams to scoop up wide receiver Van Jefferson. It’s a swap of sixth and seventh rounders in 2025—and to clear up any confusion I may have created for myself and others, it’s Atlanta’s sixth in exchange for Jefferson and the Rams’ seventh—so it’s looking like an extremely cheap roll of the dice on a young player.
Sources: The #Falcons have agreed to trade for #Rams WR Van Jefferson. It’s a 2025 pick swap — 6th and 7th rounders. They hope to recapture his play from 2021. A low-risk, high-reward deal. pic.twitter.com/r5eowZIWjC— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 10, 2023
Jefferson, 27, is the son of former Falcons receiver Shawn Jefferson, which is a cool tie-in for this franchise. He’s also a former second round pick for the Rams back in the 2020 NFL Draft and a player who has had success at the professional level, as the 6’1”, 200 pound receiver put together a 50 reception, 802 yard, six touchdown campaign in 2021 that saw him average over 16 yards per catch. Jefferson played in just 11 games in 2022 and was a non-factor for the Rams in 2023 with Puka Nacua breaking out, Tutu Atwell doing well, and now Cooper Kupp returning.
If he was expendable for the Rams, he’s likely to be a mighty useful addition for the Falcons. Drake London is starting to get going and Mack Hollins has had his moments, but Scotty Miller and KhaDarel Hodge have been lightly utilized as pass catchers and there are no other proven options on the roster or practice squad. Jefferson brings quality speed, toughness, and hands to the group, and in that intriguing 2021 season he averaged over 4 yards after the catch, a mark in line with Kyle Pitts that same season. He’s both young enough and skilled enough to be a factor as the second or third receiver here, in other words, depending on how Arthur Smith and company envision utilizing him.
The corresponding move is the release of Andre Smith Jr., the team’s fourth inside linebacker, who may well end up back on the practice squad.
The Falcons released LB Andre Smith Jr. as part of the Van Jefferson trade.— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) October 10, 2023
Jefferson is unlikely to be a major producer for Atlanta, but he adds another credible receiving threat for Desmond Ridder to utilize after his breakout game against the Texans, and adds another player opposing defenses will feel they have to account for when he’s not getting the ball. We’ll have to see his fit in the offense and where he ends up in the pecking order, but the price was extremely right for an addition at a position of significant need for the Falcons.
Give Jefferson a warm welcome to Atlanta, if you would.