The Atlanta Falcons are looking to bolster their defense this offseason and they’re a better candidate than any other to trade for Richard Sherman
Much of the talk regarding the questions that the Atlanta Falcons face looking to the 2017 season circles around what happens to the offense with Kyle Shanahan now in San Francisco. Matt Ryan was the MVP last season and the weapons around him are lethal. However, Shanahan was the genius architect that made the parts fit together perfectly. With him gone, will they lose a step? Frankly, the answer to that question should be secondary to talk of the defense.
In the simplest terms, the Falcons are going to have a difficult time getting back to the Super Bowl if they don’t improve their defense further. They’ve made some strides in doing so with the signing of defensive tackle Dontari Poe. What’s more, it was also the right call to pay cornerback Desmond Trufant like a true No. 1 at his position with their recent extension.
However, the cornerback depth in Atlanta has the potential to be upgraded beyond Trufant. Robert Alford performed admirably last season and was slightly above average in coverage. With that said, he didn’t offer much at all against the run. There’s also the likes of Jalen Collins and Brian Poole in tow, both of whom performed quite well when called upon last year. Yet both are young player susceptible to shortcomings at times.
After a trip to Super Bowl LI, the Falcons are clearly contenders and should continue to be in the 2017 season. But to truly take a step forward, they have to make big moves to upgrade the defense. With most of the free agency market settled, though, that leaves them limited options in how they achieve that. There’s one option that they have to look hard at, though: trading for Richard Sherman.
The Seattle Seahawks is widely reported to be available for a trade. What’s more, the asking price of the Seahawks has reportedly lowered from a first-round pick and a quality player to a first-round pick and a conditional mid-round pick in 2018, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. Wouldn’t him joining Dan Quinn, his former defensive coordinator in Seattle, in Atlanta make sense.
Even if you believe that Alford, Collins and Poole are quality and will be enough for the secondary to succeed, there’s no escaping the fact that Sherman is an upgrade over those guys. Hell, Sherman is an upgrade over Trufant, which is saying a great deal.
Sherman would obviously have little adjustment given his familiarity with Quinn and his defensive schemes if he were to come to Atlanta. What’s more, Sherman would take the cornerback group for the Falcons from being Trufant and guys that were good last year that you hope continue that trend from arguably the most lethal cornerback duo in the NFL. If nothing else, that’s an enticing option to consider.
Of course, there are two possible snags when it comes to a possible trade that would send Sherman to Atlanta. First, the Falcons have only $4.7 million in cap space right now (Over the Cap), which obviously doesn’t leave enough room for the approximately $11 million in base salary that Sherman is due for next season (Spotrac). The front office would have to do some work financially to make a deal work.
The other hurdle comes in the simple form that the Seahawks might be wary of trading Sherman to a contender in the NFC. It’s not remotely unreasonable to wonder why they’d trade a star cornerback to a team they’d have to potentially face in the playoffs. Yet, if the Falcons are willing to meet the asking price, or even exceed it to circumvent this concern, that might be enough to persuade Seattle.
When you look at the other cornerback-needy teams in the league that could trade for Sherman, though, the Falcons make more sense than any other — especially considering his desire to go to a contender (per Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald via Pro Football Talk). As long as the New England Patriots still have Malcolm Butler, Sherman doesn’t make sense there. Teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles shouldn’t be looking at 29-year-old cornerbacks as they build around young nuclei.
But then you have the Falcons. Atlanta obviously fits the mold of a contender, but also has a need at cornerback (even if it’s not dire). What’s more, they’re in a position more so than other options where they need to make the type of splashes that upgrade in the interest of winning now. Even if a decline is coming, Sherman remains great currently and would improve the Falcons defense exponentially.
If you then factor in the familiarity with Quinn that Sherman has, it’s an exceptionally good fit. Again, there’s nothing being reported about the Falcons pursuing Sherman. What’s more, there’s not even a guarantee that the corner gets dealt. However, if Atlanta wants to make a splash that will help give them the best shot at redemption and capturing the Lombardi Trophy, trading for Sherman would be a move big enough to have those kinds of implications.