Deshaun Watson is unlikely to play a snap for the Texans ever again. The longer he’s on the team as an inactive player, the more flashbacks Houston fans will have to the days when “playoffs” and “contender” were thrown around. The trade rumors have been building ever since the beginning of 2021, but the deadline to make a move this season is less than a month away. Weston wrote an article a few weeks ago discussing how the New York Giants, a team that wasn’t getting any attention as a possible Watson trade destination, could be a fit. In my opinion, there’s another team in this situation that’s getting little to no attention: the Atlanta Falcons.
From what I know, the Falcons haven’t been directly linked to Watson, unlike teams such as the Eagles and Dolphins. However, Atlanta seems like the best fit for the fifth-year man out of Clemson. Even if that’s where Watson ends up next month, it still doesn’t mean he’ll play this season. We can’t forget the ongoing legal issues that are separate from his displeasure with Houston.
Atlanta already has a solid quarterback in Matt Ryan, but he’s currently in his fourteenth year as an NFL player, and the organization is already starting to put younger talent around him. In the previous offseason, the Falcons traded away a superstar in Julio Jones, knowing that he’d have a better chance of winning elsewhere (Calvin Ridley is
Atlanta’s main focus now). The decision to select tight end Kyle Pitts in the 2021 NFL Draft may have been a bit questionable, but Pitts is such a valuable prospect that it’s almost a guaranteed success. Nobody was really angry about the pick.
Just because Atlanta skipped guys like Justin Fields and Mac Jones doesn’t mean they’re committed to Ryan moving forward, though. As I mentioned earlier, Ryan is only getting older, and though he played in a Super Bowl just a few years ago, the NFL is a fast-moving league. Another team that was dominant during that era was the Pittsburgh Steelers, but time has caught up to Ben Roethlisberger, and Pittsburgh finds themselves last in their division. I would have given the Steelers an honorable mention as a potential landing spot for Watson, but I don’t think they’re fully committed to a rebuild yet.
Besides Ryan, Atlanta has two other quarterbacks on their roster: Josh Rosen and Feleipe Franks. Rosen was a first-round pick in 2018, but after a bad rookie season, he’s bounced around the league as a backup. Franks is a bit more intriguing, as he made the team as an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas. The Falcons definitely like Franks’ potential, and since I’m a fan of the guy, I hope he sticks around. However, it will take Franks quite a while to develop, and most undrafted quarterbacks [unfortunately] don’t have odds in their favor.
Looking ahead to 2022, Deshaun Watson could be an answer for a Falcons squad that has a lot of question marks. Instead of drafting a quarterback, Atlanta could get a guy we all know is one of the best in the league (if he can stay out of trouble). Matt Ryan is a very respectable player, but he won’t be around forever.