The Falcons D, here making life uncomfortable for New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, will get no reinforcement through the trade market. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton
Photo: ccompton@ajc.com/Curtis Compton

Falcons find no salve for defense at trade deadline

With Tuesday afternoon’s NFL trade deadline fast approaching, the Falcons preemptively announced that they were neither buyers (ugh) nor sellers (yippee).

And sure enough, to the end, they danced with no one.

To use a slightly more sporting image, in this high-stakes game of five-card draw, they held a low pair and decided that was just about good enough. No cards for them.

Always ready to deal, and occasionally wheel, on draft day, the Thomas Dimitroff Falcons aren’t apt to be very active in this mid-course correction market. The NFL, in general, doesn’t do trade deadlines with near the panache of baseball, perhaps the only area in which the 800-pound league comes up short by comparison.

Even the Braves made a little noise in advance of this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, acquiring pieces both useful (starter Kevin Gausman) and surprisingly inconsequential (outfielder Adam Duvall). In general, the rewards outranked the risks, and at least ginned up a little interest at a time when any fresh breeze of something new feels good against the cheek.    

If you want to be a little surprised at just how muted the Falcons response has been to the injuries that have ravaged their defense, feel free. They’ve seen their D steadily reduced, from most promising to adequate to the great drag on all hopes and dreams.

Through it all, the best that could be said of management was: At least it hasn’t panicked.

Even if a little panic might be useful.

Coolly, the Falcons have just plugged in another body from their own inventory and moved forward on faith that a lesser player will grow into the job. The Brotherhood shall provide.  

From the outside, we can’t know exactly what level of extortion other clubs were attempting, knowing that the Falcons have lost the entire rear guard of their defense, Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen.

Though, in one case, we can. Washington, the Falcons next opponent, picked up Green Bay safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for a 2019 fourth-round pick. Hardly a king’s ransom, even for a rental player. The very name might mock the Falcons, if Clinton-Dix steps in and makes a quick impact.    

I put it to the AJC’s eminent Falcon follower D. Orlando Ledbetter, doesn’t Jon Gruden have at least one serviceable safety he’d want to unload while he goes about razing the Raiders?

Yes, as a matter of fact, he said. There’s Karl Joseph, something of a reclamation as a thus-far disappointing 2016 first-round pick. No one bit on him.

What about the New York Giants, they’ve already sent a cornerback (Eli Apple) to New Orleans. How about helping out a rival? All Pro safety Landon Collins, on the last year of his rookie contract, was reportedly on the market. Again, he stayed put.

Last year witnessed the impact one good deal can make. Running back Jay Ajayi came along and aided Philadelphia’s push to the Super Bowl. Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, who has a bandolier full of off-field issues, did give Jacksonville’s run defense some needed heft in 2017.

A new presence can provide some needed new energy. The Falcons are telling us there’s no need for that here - other than signing veteran offensive lineman Zane Beadles Tuesday. At least that’s what one hopes they’re trying to say, because the only other statement is: No one deal can remedy these injuries. We’ll see.

Maybe they can make do until linebacker Deion Jones returns from his broken foot. Maybe they can scrape by these next three weeks against Washington, Cleveland and Dallas and get themselves right. At 3-4 and short of making a deal to shore up the defense, maybe is about all they’ve got in hand right now.  

We know there’s a risk in making a deal out of desperation. That’s the best way to get fleeced. 

There’s great risk in doing nothing, too. More so for a team whose championship-worthy offense is very much on the clock.   

Because at the same time the Falcons stood pat at the trade deadline, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones got a day older.

About the Author

Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer
Steve Hummer writes sports features for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He covers a wide range of sports and topics.
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