Just a few yards away from a Super Bowl. Sometimes it can make a team over-think and start to panic. The Atlanta Falcons haven’t done that. They stuck to their style, signing cheaper veteran free agents to fill certain holes on the roster and hitting on needs in the draft. Are they one key NFL trade away from the dance?
With such a three-headed monster of Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez leading the way, it’s easy to miss how much impact Harry Douglas still makes for the Atlanta Falcons. Last season he caught 38 passes for 395 yards and made some key catches in the teams’ playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks. At age 28 he has only missed one game in his career and proven very reliable in the slot. Given how effective the Falcons have been developing receivers, that could make Douglas a valuable trade piece if there’s a spot on the roster they want filled or if they want some help in the 2014 draft. It would also give Douglas a chance to challenge for a starting job.
Like Douglas, it was easy for people to miss what made Jason Snelling so valuable to the Falcons offense. While Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers ate up carries on the ground, the seven-year veteran hauled in 31 passes. He may not start, but Snelling is an excellent specialty back, able to create mismatches coming out of the backfield and keep defenses honest with runs on the ground. He obviously won’t fetch much in the way of draft picks, but if Atlanta needs depth at another position, Snelling is a player with enough value to fetch it for them.
Of all the journeymen in the past five to seven years, none have been more productive than cornerback Asante Samuel. He proved it again last season when he joined the Falcons, his third career team in the NFL and collected five interceptions. Picking off the football is what he’s best at. The problem is he’s not very able at anything else. Samuel only had 38 tackles last season. There is no question he is corner interested in defending the pass while offering minimal help against the run. For that reason, and the fact he’s 32, the Falcons must consider moving him out before his value drops too far. They made the right move drafting rookies Desmond Trufant out of Washington and Robert Alford of SE Louisiana. Their presence changes the equation, making Samuel expendable what with two Pro Bowl safeties on the roster. Dealing him to a corner needy team might be the Atlanta Falcons last chance to fetch some draft help for next year before his value drops permanently.