Packers Linked to ‘Dream Trade’ for Falcons 2x Pro Bowler

Jarrett Packers Dream Trade

Getty Grady Jarrett #97 of the Atlanta Falcons reacts after sacking Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on October 27, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Green Bay Packers have found quite a bit of success with their under-the-radar veteran signings this season, but the public clamor for them to “dream” bigger is heating up ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.

Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr recently featured the Packers as one of his “contenders with obvious holes” in his look-ahead piece for the trade deadline at 4 p.m. on November 2, identifying several defensive positions — such as their defensive line — where they could stand to add talent for the second half of the 2021 season.

He also pitched the Packers for one of his “dream trades” that would see them turn over a second- fourth and conditional fifth-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Grady Jarrett.

“Jarrett is a luxury for the Falcons right now, a 28-year-old centerpiece defensive tackle who has a gargantuan cap hit,” Orr wrote. “While the time to trade him would be this offseason when his hit drastically reduces, Green Bay could upgrade one of the league’s softer run defenses and spend one of its extra fourth-round picks. The Falcons, meanwhile, could continue efforting toward a full rebuild while Matt Ryan is still in a championship window. While it would gut the Falcons’ defense in the short-term, how much remaining value is there with Jarrett from the perspective of a team that has some serious long-term issues?”

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How Jarrett Trade Could Make Sense

The Falcons deciding to trade Jarrett at the deadline wouldn’t take a stretch of the imagination. They are a 3-4 team at the bottom of a competitive division that seems destined for a massive rebuild in 2022. Shipping away Jarrett now would leave their defense with a significant hole for the rest of the season, but it might be worth it if they can gain a draft haul in the ballpark of what Orr proposed.

The catch, as the Falcons likely know, is finding a taker on his massive contract. His base salary alone for the 2021 season is $13.5 million with a total cap hit of $20.83 million. Even nearing the midway point of the year, that’s quite a number for any team to add to their books. If the return is good enough to jumpstart their full rebuild, though, the Falcons could be willing to eat a large chunk of the cost to facilitate a trade.

It would need to be for the Packers to have even a remote interest in adding Jarrett to their lineup, especially with such a deal adding onto their already-substantial cap problems in 2022. Jarrett has an “out” in his contract during the upcoming offseason, but cutting him still leaves behind about $7.33 million in dead cap — which is pretty excessive for a player that would play a little more than half a season for them.

That said, the Packers’ defensive line has long been the subject of criticism aside from nose tackle Kenny Clark and could be spending some time without Kingsley Keke after he dropped out of Week 8’s game with a concussion. Even with Dean Lowry playing like a man possessed recently — four sacks and 14 pressures in the past four games — the addition of a game-wrecking piece like Jarrett could make their defense elite once their cornerback room is back to full health.

Jarrett made the Pro Bowl in each of his past two seasons for the Falcons, combining for 11.5 sacks, 65 solo tackles and 103 total pressures during that span. Imagine the damage he could do with Clark on the inside and guys like Preston Smith, Rashan Gary and Mercilus rushing from the edges.

Jarrett Probably Isn’t ‘Right Opportunity’ for Packers

The Packers have a reputation for being quiet at the NFL trade deadline that seems to have been passed on from Ted Thompson to Brian Gutekunst, but the latter certainly hasn’t shied away from making moves on veterans over the past few months. He traded for Randall Cobb, Isaac Yiadom and Corey Bojorquez prior to the start of the season and has since signed notable veterans such as Jaylon Smith, Rasul Douglas and Whitney Mercilus to address injuries at key positions.

“If the right opportunity presents itself, that’s something that we could be involved with,” Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told reporters about trade possibilities on Monday, November 1. “I know Gutey and his staff are working extremely hard at trying to find something. It’s just whether or not the right opportunity exists.”

Unfortunately, the cap constraints likely mean that Jarrett isn’t the “right opportunity” for the Packers. They are also probably not keen on the idea of giving up multiple draft assets for a half-year rental when they, too, could be in a form of rebuilding next season, especially if Aaron Rodgers packs his bags and leaves Green Bay behind. Besides, instead of adding another veteran defensive lineman, they could also just unleash fifth-round rookie T.J. Slaton in a full-time role and see what he can do.

The Packers have less than 24 hours to figure out whether any of the “right” opportunities are out there. A defensive lineman could still be in the cards, as could another coverage linebacker or tight end to account for the loss of Robert Tonyan.

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