avril 23, 2024

Four QB options for Falcons in 2024

3 min read

Arguably, no team has a bigger question mark at quarterback than the Falcons. 

Members of the front office and coaching staff have signaled the position as the one that most needs to improve in 2024, but how Atlanta goes about fixing the position is less obvious.

A pair of Tuesday NFL.com articles revealed two paths the team could take, including sending a king’s ransom to the Bears for the No. 1 overall pick or standing pat and selecting a quarterback at No. 8. However, those aren’t the only possibilities for the Falcons.

Here are four avenues Atlanta could go down as it tries to turn the quarterback position into a strength. 

1. Trade up for a rookie

The best choice for the Falcons is to trade up in this year’s draft, but such a move won’t come cheap. NFL.com’s Ali Bhanpuri listed potential trade packages teams could send to the Bears for the No. 1 overall pick, and Atlanta would pay a hefty fee to move up from No. 8. In Bhanpuri’s hypothetical trade, the Falcons receive the 2024 No. 1 overall pick and running back Khalil Herbert for two firsts (2024, 2025), a 2024 third, 2026 second and running back Bijan Robinson.

Perhaps the Falcons become infatuated with each of the three top quarterback prospects and broker a deal with the Commanders or Patriots for less. That could be in play, too, but if the price to select a franchise quarterback is parting with a running back, even one as talented as Robinson, Atlanta can’t say no. A quarterback will last 12-15 years if a team chooses wisely, while a running back might be out of the league in half that time. It would undoubtedly be a tough choice to make, but it would be the right one.

2. Trade for Justin Fields

The most popular destination for the Bears quarterback in 2024 is Atlanta according to DraftKings. Fields is a Georgia native, giving him an obvious tie to the franchise. He’d also be a significant upgrade over 2023 starters Desmond Ridder and Taylor Heinicke; in an NFC South that’s up for grabs, he could tip the scales in the Falcons’ favor.

Atlanta wouldn’t have to part with as much in a deal as it would for No. 1 overall, so why is trading for Fields not the best choice? He’s about to cost significantly more. Fields is entering the fourth year of his rookie contract and counts $6 million against the cap, but his fifth-year option is roughly $22 million. His price tag will only go up from there, while the No. 1 pick in April’s draft will make an average of $11.3 million per year from 2024-27. For a team that must pay tight end Kyle Pitts, wide receiver Drake London and corner A.J. Terrell soon, the cost-controlled option at quarterback is preferable.

3. Sign Russell Wilson

The ultimate stopgap option, Wilson would come at a discounted rate as the Broncos are already locked in to pay him $39 million. Whatever he earns on his next contract will count against what Denver owes him, giving Wilson little reason to demand more than the league minimum ($1.21 million). In Atlanta, Wilson would have a stronger supporting cast than with the Broncos, where he shook off a miserable first year with a respectable 2023 campaign.

This past season, Wilson had the third-highest completion percentage of his career (66.4) and ranked ninth in the league in on-target attempts (77.9 percent) while having the fourth-lowest bad throw rate (13.2 percent). At 35, Wilson would be a quick, temporary fix for the Falcons, which would kick questions about a long-term solution down the road.

4. Select J.J. McCarthy at No. 8 overall

Daniel Jeremiah’s most recent mock draft for NFL.com has the Falcons selecting Michigan’s national championship-winning quarterback, which would be the safest move for an organization that should think bigger. McCarthy is a proven winner but was largely hidden by Michigan’s conservative offense. He displayed positive traits, but McCarthy is by no means a sure thing. For a team that just got burned betting on Desmond Ridder, throwing its belief behind another young quarterback with less upside than the top members of the class might be repeating the same mistake.

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