Falcons Named as Potential Trade Partner for Deebo Samuel

Deebo Samuel

Getty Deebo Samuel has put in a trade request, and the Atlanta Falcons are one team who could make a deal.

Cordarrelle Patterson is already playing running back and wide receiver for the Atlanta Falcons, but that doesn’t mean the team couldn’t use another versatile, roving weapon on offense.

How about the best all-round weapon in the NFL? The distinction surely belongs to Deebo Samuel, but the rushing and pass-catching sensation wants out of the San Francisco 49ers.

Samuel has requested a trade and, not surprisingly, several teams are already being mentioned as potential suitors. The Falcons belong on the list, according to one podcast host.

ALL the latest Falcons news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Falcons newsletter here!

It may seem fanciful to think the Falcons would have a realistic shot, given the salary cap restraints general manager Terry Fontenot has dealt with this offseason. There may be some hope, though, because Fontenot does have ample draft capital and a few expensive veterans who could be part of an enticing trade package.

Falcons One of 9 Possible Suitors

Samuel’s desire to leave the Niners was reported earlier in the day by ESPN’s Jeff Darlington:

This news prompted Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio to speculate about which teams would be willing to strike a deal. Florio began his summary by naming the New York Jets, who he says would be in the mix after wanting to trade for Tyreek Hill before losing out to AFC East rivals the Miami Dolphins.

After the Jets, Florio considered the alternatives: “Other teams to watch, in our view, include the Eagles, the Bears, the Falcons, the Texans, the Saints, the Patriots, the Chiefs, and the Packers.”

Being one of nine potential trade partners would make it tough for the Falcons to win any race for Samuel. Especially since Fontenot is currently projected by Spotrac.com to have just $2,542,917 worth of space to work with under the cap.

Putting together enough resources for a trade would be difficult, but far from impossible. Not when the Falcons hold the eighth-overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, to go with two selections in the second round and a pair of picks in the third.

Packaging at least two of those picks together would surely pique the interest of the 49ers, who don’t have a first-round pick this year. The Falcons would also strengthen their case, not to mention their money under the cap, if they added a player to the pot.

Nose tackle Grady Jarrett carries a cap hit worth $23.833 million for this year. He also appears better suited to an active gap-attacking defense like the one the 49ers run, than the block-absorbing responsibilities he has in the 3-4 scheme preferred by Atlanta defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

Fontenot has the means to offer an enticing bundle in trade, but is Samuel worth it? Specifically, is he the right fit for the Falcons’ offense?

Appearances can be deceptive.

Samuel Might Not Welcome Patterson Role

On the surface, Samuel seems like a dream fit for the Falcons. He established himself as the ultimate dual-threat playmaker in 2021, grabbing 77 receptions for 1,405 yards and six touchdowns, as well as rushing for 365 yards and 8 scores on 81 attempts.

Samuel became increasingly important to the 49ers as a runner, rather than a receiver. He was prolific on the ground during the season’s run-in, per ESPN:

The 49ers were never afraid to line Samuel up in the backfield. Head coach Kyle Shanahan rushed his star wide receiver on power sweeps or in short-yardage situations. It didn’t matter. San Francisco’s mantra became to get the ball into Samuel’s hands whatever it took.

While Samuel dominated the headlines for his rushing efforts, Patterson was taking a similar route in Atlanta. The one-time wide receiver and kick returner redefined himself as a traditional tailback.

Like the Niners, the Falcons’ staff didn’t hesitate to put Patterson in familiar running sets. Head coach Arthur Smith and offensive coordinator Dave Ragone lined up Patterson in I-formation looks, like on this play highlighted by Ted Nguyen of The Athletic:

Just like with Samuel, the schematic ploy helped Patterson produce impressive numbers. He amassed 153 carries for 610 yards and six touchdowns, alongside 52 catches for 548 yards and five scores.

Playing in an offense that already knows how to use his diverse skill set ought to appeal to Samuel. The problem is the way he’s been used is one reason why the All-Pro wants a trade, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, who cited “questions and frustrations from his (Samuel’s) standpoint about his usage.”

If Samuel doesn’t want to continue doubling up as a running back, Patterson’s presence could be a selling point for the Falcons. It would let Samuel know there is another receiver willing and able to take on the rushing chores he may no longer be prepared to endure.

There’s no doubt the Falcons need a player as gifted Samuel, no matter where he’d make an impact. The running back room is still led by Patterson, while new arrival Damien Williams has joined Mike Davis. It’s a tough and resourceful group, but not one likely to scare opposing defenses.

The same is true of the Falcons’ options at wide receiver. Auden Tate and Damiere Byrd arrived in free agency to join Olamide Zaccheaus, whose return was confirmed by beat reporter Tori McElhaney on Tuesday, April 19. This is a depth chart lacking a legitimate playmaker following Calvin Ridley’s suspension for gambling violations.

Players as good as Samuel don’t become available too often, and the Falcons have the means to make a deal happen. Samuel would instantly become the team’s No. 1 receiver and still offer the versatility to keep defenses guessing the way Patterson does.

Read More