"Other teams believe the former first-round pick gets moved before Tuesday’s deadline, though no deal is imminent, per sources," Pelissero wrote Wednesday.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler also reported Atlanta is planning to hold McKinley, who's dealing with a groin injury, out of Thursday's game against the Carolina Panthers with an eye toward a possible trade.
Falcons defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich told reporters he hadn't heard anything on the matter:
McKinley has eight tackles and one sack through four games this year.
The Falcons selected him with the 26th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He was supposed to help a defensive line that ranked 24th in adjusted sack rate the season before, per Football Outsiders.
In what's often a telltale sign regarding a player's performance, the team declined his fifth-year option for the 2021 season. He has posted 17.5 sacks in 49 career games.
"You can only control what you can control," McKinley said in August, per ESPN's Vaughn McClure. "I can't talk to TD [general manager Thomas Dimitroff] and beg him, 'Hey man, accept my fifth-year option.' I can't do that. That's up to them. ... Whatever I showed in the [three] years, they decided to decline my option, which is cool. I still got another year here, still got another year to prove myself."
The aforementioned groin injury has prevented him from bolstering his value ahead of free agency.
The Falcons are 1-6, so they'll presumably want to cash in on their most logical trade assets, and McKinley would qualify. He probably wouldn't net a lot of value, but flipping him for a mid-round pick is at least something for a player who doesn't appear to be in the franchise's long-term plans.
The absence of a financial commitment beyond 2020 could also incentivize trade suitors to acquire him in the hope he has a big second half of the season.