FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — For the second time in his life, Van Jefferson has moved to Georgia specifically because of the Atlanta Falcons.
On Tuesday, the wide receiver was traded to the Falcons from the Los Angeles Rams. He's 27 years old.
When Jefferson was between the ages of 4 and 6, he lived here while his father, Shawn, played for the Falcons from 2000-02. The elder Jefferson had a long career that spanned from 1991-2003.
"I remember memories of us coming to the games," Van Jefferson said. "We stayed in Marietta when he played here. Just to be here, where my dad played, is great. Hopefully I can continue that legacy and just play good football."
Shawn Jefferson appeared in 45 games and started in 27 for the Falcons in his three years. He caught 124 passes for 1,755 yards and five touchdowns.
After he retired as a player, Shawn Jefferson got into coaching. His and Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith's paths actually crossed at the Tennessee Titans from 2013-15. So, there's another tie between the Jefferson family and the Falcons organization.
"It was a while ago, and it wasn't why we (wanted Van)," Smith said. "But you do feel good and know what he's about. Obviously, the tape matches it, too. It's not just the personal relationship, but you feel good about bringing him into our locker room with the characteristics."
Van Jefferson comes to Atlanta with three seasons and change under his belt, all with the Rams, who drafted him with a second-round pick in 2020 out of Florida.
As just a rookie, Jefferson played in all 16 games and had 19 receptions for 220 yards and a touchdown. In his second season, he started all 17 games, improving to 50 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns. His numbers dropped last year, with 24 receptions for 369 yards and three touchdowns in just nine starts and 11 appearances.
Jefferson started in the first four games this season, and his production was more on track with that of last season. He had just eight catches for 108 yards. He took just two snaps in last weekend's game, with no stats to account for them.
"He's excited to get a fresh start," said Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts, who was teammates with Jefferson at Florida. "He was pretty happy about that."
Jefferson has already been to the peak of the NFL – catching four passes for 23 yards while helping the Rams beat Cincinnati in Super Bowl LVI – but the Rams were decreasing his recent opportunities on the field rather than increasing them.
That's surely why a deal was made. The Falcons received Jefferson and a 2025 seventh-round draft pick. The Rams, in exchange, got a 2025 sixth-round draft pick.
The trade was a surprise to Jefferson, who went about his Tuesday per usual before his agent called. Then, he packed up, hopped on a red-eye flight and arrived in Atlanta on Wednesday morning. He practiced that afternoon.
His speed was already noticed.
"His feet are incredible," Falcons running back Bijan Robinson said. "I see how he can break people off because he catches everything – we saw that as well – but then he can run after the catch, which is really huge in this offense."
The Falcons just put together one of their best offensive performances last Sunday in their win over the Houston Texans. Quarterback Desmond Ridder completed 28 of his 37 passes for 329 yards and a touchdown. He targeted 11 different receivers and successfully hit 10 of them.
Jefferson took note, even praising Ridder's latest performance, and is hopeful to soon be a part of the mix.
The Falcons host the Washington Commanders on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (1 p.m. ET, CBS). Whether Jefferson will be incorporated into the game plan that quickly is a mystery, considering Smith gave a vague "we'll see" when questioned on the matter. If called upon, though, Jefferson is confident he'll be ready to go, despite the midseason change-up.
"I don't think it's tough," Jefferson said. "I think if you've got the right mindset and you want to do it, it can happen. I'm just here to work. I'm just here to learn from these guys and I'm just here to help in the best way I can."
Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the Washington Commanders.