This has been as dramatic an NFL offseason as I've seen in my years covering the league. The Falcons have been directly involved in some moves – the Matt Ryan trade – minor characters in others – the Deshaun Watson pursuit – and will be directly impact by others, like Tom Brady’s un-retirement and return to Tampa Bay.
- McElhaney: Why the Falcons should not draft a quarterback at No. 8
- Wyche: How Marcus Mariota could fit into Falcons long-term QB plan
- Ranking Falcons greatest draft needs heading into 2022 draft
- Eight at No. 8: Kayvon Thibodeaux, Kyle Hamilton, Malik Willis, Charles Cross, Garrett Wilson; Sauce Gardner
There have been many more big moments not involving Atlanta's home team. Could they be players in another heading into the NFL Draft? That was a question in our mailbag that we addressed in this Bair Mail, regarding Deebo Samuel telling ESPN’s Jeff Darlington he wants out of San Francisco. Will that happen? Nobody knows.
But Bair Mail's a safe space to explore such ideas – we aren't reporting anything here; just talking sports – so we look at that prospect, but Grady Jarrett, local fans' love for Jordan Davis and what's going on at this stage of the offseason program.
Payton M. from Atlanta, Ga.
Seeing reports that Deebo Samuel wants the 49ers to trade him. Should the Falcons make a run at him?
Bair: Deebo Samuel is a fascinating player to watch. He's a tough, fearless tackle breaker. Should the Falcons pick up the phone and see what it might take to pry the All-Pro away from Bay? Absolutely. My guess: At least a dozen other teams could do the same.
He’s that impactful. While some reports suggest he didn't love his role as a hybrid receiver/running back, head coach Arthur Smith is creative enough to carve out a role that accentuates his talents and keeps him happy.
An offense featuring versatile talents in Kyle Pitts, Cordarrelle Patterson and Samuel would be tough to defend, especially with Marcus Mariota's mobility in play. The Falcons offense would receive an instant upgrade and be pretty entertaining with that quartet.
Would I give up No. 8 overall to make the deal, and then pay Samuel a heavy sum? I would not. But I'd consider a package of Day 2 picks for Samuel, though, and his injury history wouldn't scare me away from signing him to a big extension. The Falcons have plenty of cap space next year and beyond to make big deals work, and have shown a willingness this offseason to go big.
This is an instance where they certainly should explore the prospect, even if it deviates slightly from the roster improvement road mapped out. I've seen Samuel play live several times while in the Bay Area. He's a special player.
Since we're talking blockbuster trades here, I'd also look hard at whether the Falcons could wrestle A.J. Brown free from Tennessee. He and Smith obviously work well together and have ben trade partners in the past. While paying top talent on a rookie contract is ideal, there's a trend toward trading draft assets for established players. The Falcons have the capital to make those moves, especially for guys in their mid-20s.
Would Brown make the Falcons an instant contender? Probably not. Samuel? Tough to tell. I think he who would thrive under Smith in 2022 and over a long haul, and is worth the heavy freight.
All that's just my humble opinion, but it sure seems like Cordarrelle Patterson would also approve of a Samuel pursuit:
Will Smith from Summerville, Ga.
Hi, Scott, I just read that Grady Jarrett was not at the Falcons voluntary workouts. Does this mean that the front office will let him walk or trade him rather than extending him? I could maybe see that happen, if the plan was to take Jordan Davis at 8. How much cap space would this save next year if it actually happened?
Bair: I wouldn't read into Grady Jarrett not being present for the start of this year's offseason program. As you mentioned in your first sentence, these workouts are VOLUNTARY. And Jarrett posted on social media that he was out working on his own Tuesday afternoon.
The act of Jarrett working on his own doesn't mean anything. The Falcons have made it crystal clear that they love him. Read what Arthur Smith said about him last month, which was very complimentary. A contract extension – his deal is up after this season -- seems way more likely than a trade at this stage, though it takes two make a pact. Time will tell on all that, but don't read into him not joining up for this early stage of the offseason program. If he speaks on the matter down the road, we'll listen. I definitely wouldn't stress about it now.
And now to your hypothetical: If they let him walk, it would save any 2023 money because he was coming off the books, anyway. If he's traded before the year, it would come with $16.5 million in savings with a $7.3 million in dead money, per overthecap.com.
Arthur Felder from Decatur, Ga.
Bair, Why draft Robin when you can draft Batman. Jordan Davis is Batman, Jordan made everyone better around him he took on the double team so others could be the one to make plays.
Bair: Man. There is a passionate, vocal faction demanding the Falcons take Jordan Davis. I'd be willing to bet a majority of them saw the defensive tackle take most every snap during his college career, proudly wearing that red and black G on their hats. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
There's no doubting the Falcons need playmakers along the defensive front and, as Arthur points out, Davis is the type who makes everyone around him better. Could they take him at No. 8, especially after a jaw-dropping NFL combine? Sure. I'm not a believer that will happen at that spot. I think the edge rushers, cornerbacks, offensive tackles and receivers linked to the Falcons are more likely scenarios. That's not taking anything away from Davis. I may be wrong, but that's how I see it playing out (at this stage).
David Hicks from Marshalltown, Iowa
With pre-draft OTA's occurring, what specifically is on the agenda? Anything interesting to note what is going on behind the scenes?
Bair: It was great to have the players back in the building for the first day of the Falcons offseason program. There's isn't a ton going on at this point, with meetings and strength and conditioning the allowable activities at this early stage. It's about getting back in football shape, building team chemistry and conceptually learning the system. Things crank up some during the next phase of the offseason program, where on-field activities are allowed. And we're still a little way from media availability, where we'll have a chance to see Marcus Mariota throw in Arthur Smith's Falcons offense. That's when spring football gets fun.
Call for questions
We're going a bit out of order with a Thursday mailbag, and we'll skip Friday with me briefly out of town. Submit your questions right here for a Monday mailbag that'll kick off NFL Draft week.