The hometown Atlanta Falcons are in the mix to potentially trade for Houston Texans controversial quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Every team in the NFC South outside of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have reported interest in Houston Texans controversial franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson. Atlanta Falcons, welcome to the thunder dome.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen reported that Atlanta has emerged as a sleeper team to trade for Watson. Atlanta is one of four teams that have reportedly met with or are interested in Watson, along with the Cleveland Browns and the Falcons’ two biggest rivals: The Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints.
Watson grew up in Gainesville, Georgia and played his college ball at nearby Clemson.
In fact, the house Watson grew up in was built by Falcons legend and Ring of Honor member Warrick Dunn’s Homes for the Holidays. Dunn works for the Falcons organization now.
Not only that, but Watson served as a ball boy for the Falcons when he was in high school. He is supposedly very close with franchise owner Arthur Blank and his family.
Obviously, there are so many pros and cons for the Falcons to be exploring this trade option.
Do they really have the stomach to pull this one off? Should they even consider this move?
Deshaun Watson rumors: Atlanta Falcons interested in trading for quarterback
In theory, if Atlanta were to trade for Watson, it would be the end of the Matt Ryan era in Flowery Branch. Ryan is a well-respected player in the league. Though he is past his prime, Ryan is the greatest quarterback in franchise history. Not only will he be inducted into the Ring of Honor, but The Blanks will retire his No. 2 jersey. In all likelihood, Ryan ends up with a bronze bust in Canton.
Watson would replace a quarterback he grew up idolizing. Not only that but Ryan has been a pillar in the Atlanta community since 2008. He may be year-to-year at this point of his career, but could you imagine Atlanta losing two goodwill ambassadors in the same week? Freddie Freeman is gone, and possibly Ryan, too. Thank goodness for Ronald Acuña Jr., Josef Martinez and Trae Young.
Even if the Falcons and Texans are swapping dead cap in this borderline unthinkable trade, Watson is going to divide the fanbase considerably. For some, it would be a local kid returning home after the most turbulent part of his life, entirely of his own doing. It would be like getting the second half of what Michael Vick’s career could have been. While Vick has been forgiven, this is WAY different.
Vick did hard time and was remorseful of his wrongdoing. Though he was never going to be able to play for the Falcons again, most of Dirty Bird Nation seems to be okay with him at this point. As for Watson, who is to say what happened in Houston will not happen in Atlanta? If the Falcons were to trade for him, Blank, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have to be united in this decision.
From an on-field standpoint, Watson is the better talent over Ryan presently. Smith competed against him for years in the AFC South. Atlanta is still far from fielding a competitive roster, but trading for Watson gives this struggling franchise the juice it has been lacking since 28-3.
From a PR and off-field standpoint, Atlanta cannot make this move. This is a very finicky fanbase to begin with in the college football capital of the world. It will be hard to sell PSLs to those with deep pockets when the new face of the franchise has ventured into persona non grata territory. While athletes are not role models, a first-class organization would not trade for Watson.
So what is the point in Atlanta entering the fray here? It is simple really: To drive up the price for someone else to trade for Watson. Atlanta may have to accept Watson playing for a bitter rival, but if the Falcons can make the Panthers and Saints give up more for him, then so be it. By having some reported interest in Watson, the Falcons are clearly doing some reconnaissance on the guy.
Ultimately, what Atlanta needs to do is put together the best team around Ryan possible this season. If they want to pull on the heartstrings by bringing in a local kid, draft Liberty quarterback Malik Willis this spring. Roswell and College Park will love that. If they would rather take the best player available at No. 8, do that and draft Ryan’s successor in 2023 in a better quarterback class.
Blank may like Watson personally, but trading for him will alienate the better part of the fanbase.