Outside of a fever dream flirtation with an unnamed quarterback in the 2022 offseason, the Atlanta Falcons have rarely been buyers in the trade market. It makes sense considering the team’s lack of cap space and significant roster holes in prior years.
Now in 2023, the Falcons are a surprisingly stout team in first place in the NFC South. Atlanta has one of the league’s best offensive lines, a top 10 defense and an elite-ish bunch of offensive play-makers. Provided the team believes quarterback Desmond Ridder can continue developing, the only major roster hole is at EDGE.
So the Falcons are competing, the team is flush with cap space, and has a full slew of draft picks going into 2024. It feels like time for Terry Fontenot to step up and make a big move to help this team both in 2023 and beyond.
League sources anticipate the Commanders will part with either Chase Young or Montez Sweat by Tuesday, especially if Washington loses Sunday to the Eagles to fall to 3-5 on the year and 0-3 in the division. Washington received more calls on the players this past week after waiting to see how it would fare in these crucial NFC East games.Young and Sweat are two pass rushers who could be available along with Vikings edge rusher Danielle Hunter. They’re all part of a group of edge rushers — along with Jacksonville’s Josh Allen, Green Bay’s Rashan Gary and Burns — who are set to be unrestricted free agents in the spring with a manageable franchise tag number looming.
For Washington, the move makes sense. It is unlikely to sign both EDGEs to contract extensions. It also seems possible the team cleans house this offseason. Either way, signing two players at the same position in the same offseason would be surprising.
Fans may remember both players as popular mock draft picks for the Falcons in 2019 (Sweat went 26th after the Falcons selected Chris Lindstrom at 14) and 2020 (Chase Young rumored as a trade up target went 2nd overall with the Falcons taking A.J. Terrell at 16).
Young is the bigger name and comes with the bigger injury history. After a 7.5 sack rookie season, Young has struggled to be both healthy and effective. However, 2023 looks like his best season from a sack production perspective as he’s notched 5 in only 6 games.
Sweat looks like the better player so far, with 34.5 career sacks and 5.5 in 7 games this year. He’s been healthier, more consistent, and more effective. The Falcons would likely want to extend Sweat in addition to the trade, with Young more likely finishing out his rookie contract.
Either way, the Falcons have the ammo to pull the trigger on one or the other. Danielle Hunter should be interesting for the Falcons but may be the most expensive of the players with a realistic shot at getting traded to Atlanta. Jones, who has historically been plugged into Atlanta, identifies the Falcons as one of many potential buyers at the trade deadline. Should the Falcons land an EDGE, expect that player to provide a competent bookend across from impressive veteran Bud Dupree.
Plenty is lining up for a potential Falcons move between now and Tuesday.