NFL Trade Rumors: Falcons, Lions Open to Moving Down in 2021 NFL Draft

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVApril 5, 2021

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The Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions are reportedly among the teams willing to trade back in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated reported both have had talks with teams that could look to trade up. The Falcons are set to pick fourth overall and the Lions seventh.

While some have speculated Atlanta may look at a long-term replacement for Matt Ryan at No. 4, the logistics behind such a move don't make sense. Ryan restructured his contract this offseason to give the Falcons more cap space and, in the process, made himself borderline unmovable. Atlanta would incur a $40.5 million dead-cap charge if it trades or releases Ryan next offseason.

It's possible the Falcons draft a quarterback at No. 4 and sit him for two years, but it's unlikely. Having a star quarterback on a rookie contract is the best time to strike for a Super Bowl window. Drafting a player at the position to sit him for two years isn't a prudent use of resources.

The Lions are in the infancy of what will likely be a multiyear rebuild, so an opportunity to trade back and replenish the roster with youth makes sense. With as many as five quarterbacks expected to go in the top 10, the Lions could trade back a handful of slots and still get an elite player at a position of need. This is likely the logic the Philadelphia Eagles used in moving back to No. 12 in a trade with the Miami Dolphins.

The Falcons' best-case scenario would likely involve the 49ers' taking Mac Jones at No. 3, leaving Justin Fields available with the fourth pick. Rumors have been flying that the 49ers prefer Jones, but nearly every major evaluator ranks Fields as the better player. 

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The Lions could then find themselves in a situation at No. 7 where the top four quarterbacks are off the board, leading to a chase for Trey Lance that could bring back a haul.