Atlanta Falcons linebacker Akeem Dent was traded for Houston Texans quarterback T.J. Yates earlier this week in a swap of backups that both looked likely to be cut after training camp ended. On first glance, the Texans look to have won the trade.
However, both teams made the right move here. This is a move that doesn't just benefit the Texans and Falcons, it also benefits the players themselves by putting them in the right situation for training camp.
Why the trade makes sense for Atlanta
The Falcons didn't need to keep a linebacker on the roster who had no chance of starting or developing into a starter. Dent was logjammed behind Paul Worrilow and Joplo Bartu at inside linebacker. It also looked like Prince Shembo had already beat him out for role at minicamp.
When I saw practice on Tuesday, Dent just looked out of place in the scheme compared to Shembo. Add in Yawin Smallwood and Marquis Spruill having more potential, and it made sense to send Dent away. So the Falcons did the right thing by sending Dent to a team that could actually use him.
They did need someone to upgrade their backup quarterback situation behind Matt Ryan, because Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree and Jeff Mathews weren't the answer. Yates has experience both in the regular season and the playoffs and should be a good fit for the offense.
Why the trade makes sense for Houston
According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the Texans were going to cut T.J. Yates because he was having trouble beating out Case Keenum and Tom Savage for the backup role. However, they can now get a player who will help with their depth and even has starting experience at inside linebacker.
With names like Jeff Tarpinian, Mike Mohamed, Justin Tuggle, Paul Hazel, Chris Young and Max Bullough as the primary backups, Houston really needed some depth at inside linebacker. They needed someone who could play strong-inside linebacker in a pinch.
Should Brian Cushing gets injured again or if an outside linebacker goes down and Brooks Reed has to get moved back outside, Dent can fill in right away as the starter. In the meantime, he’s a great special teams player who can also be a thumper on goal-line sets.
Why the trade makes sense for T.J. Yates
T.J. Yates is an Atlanta native who went to Pope High School in Marietta, Georgia. He’s going to be playing in front of his hometown now. On the field, he’s a dink-and-dunk, West Coast-style quarterback who was competing for a roster spot in Bill O'Brien's air-em-out-style offense.
It was a round peg in a square hole. It just didn't make sense for his skill set and wasn't the right fit for him. The question of why he couldn't beat out Schaub or Keenum has more to do with former head coach Gary Kubiak switching his offense around than talent level.
Atlanta’s got offensive concepts that were rarely seen in Kubiak’s offense like screens and short slants. Yates should thrive as the backup in Atlanta and could eventually start again in the NFL for another team with a scheme similar to what the Falcons have.
Why the trade makes sense for Akeem Dent
Even though he was going to be a backup linebacker, the Falcons needed to change from Dent. They run too many different coverage and blitzing responsibilities from their inside linebackers for him to be effective in the scheme anymore—something that’s becoming more common around the league.
Dent is an old-school, two-down thumper in the middle and will be better served to play next to Cushing in Houston as a strong-inside linebacker in Romeo Crennel’s scheme. Dent will initially be the primary backup behind Brooks Reed based on a quick look at the depth chart.
He leaves his hometown of Atlanta, but the change of scenery could be good for him. Sometimes a guy needs to play in a different scheme closer to the one the played in while he was in college to look competent and effective.
All stats used are from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN.com, CFBStats or NFL.com. All combine and pro day info is courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, college football, the NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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