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Should Washington try to acquire Falcons' pick at No. 4?

/ by Peter Hailey
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For sale: The fourth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

Price: Open for negotiation, but will be costly 

Deadline for deal: Thursday, April 29 at 8:30 p.m. or so. Preferably sooner.

If NFL teams tried to pass off assets the way that other businesses do, the Falcons could use something that resembles the above listing in order to execute a trade for their premium first-round pick, which is something Adam Schefter says Atlanta is currently "open to." 

The Jaguars, Jets and 49ers aren't moving from their spots, and all three are widely expected to take a passing prospect. Therefore, any organization that wants to move up to the best possible place in the draft order to will be calling the Falcons, who could opt to continue to roll with Matt Ryan and acquire more selections to fortify their roster elsewhere.

But should Washington attempt to be the other half of a swap with Atlanta? 

WFT coach Ron Rivera recently said that he likes the thought of building out Washington's depth chart and adding in a franchise quarterback at the end of that project. Overall, he doesn't appear to be someone who's desperate to find the Burgundy and Gold's long-term answer under center, which is understandable, considering the team just signed Ryan Fitzpatrick and Rivera is only one season into his tenure with the club.

 

But while he has the flexibility to be patient at QB for now, at some point, he will need to commit to someone with the potential to be a permanent solution, and swooping in for the Falcons' choice could give him that opportunity.

At that fourth slot, two out of the following players should be there: Mac Jones, Justin Fields and Trey Lance with Fields and Lance representing the most probable pair, since the Niners are apparently closing in on Jones as their guy. If Rivera and Washington's scouts and front office view one of those quarterbacks as a must-have addition, then they should have no issues putting together a package to vault into a position where they can make that addition a reality.

But hold up, you argue. Why can't Washington just chill where they are at No. 19, hang out to see if someone slips unexpectedly and then pounce? 

The response to that is, well, sure, they definitely could do that. Fields in particular has a stock that's a bit more murky, so it may not be fully necessary to take Atlanta up on their generosity.

Yet on the other hand, patience doesn't always pay off; sometimes, being patient leads to totally missing out. Kyle Shanahan and the Niners, for example, didn't want to leave anything up to chance, so they decided to compensate Miami heavily and, due to that, they'll go on the clock right after Jacksonville and New York. They still have to come out of April with the correct rookie, but you can appreciate their boldness.

Now, one of the more interesting parts about this draft is that there's a non-QB who's also worthy of hearing his name in the top five, and that's Florida tight end Kyle Pitts. 

Here's what Chris Cooley, who understands what goes into succeeding as a tight end, had to say of Pitts during a recent episode of The Kevin Sheehan Show:

"He’s absolutely outstanding," Cooley told Sheehan. "He’ll do whatever he wants to do in the league. He’s unbelievable. If he does not go in the first four picks, I will be blown away."

"I don't remember a tight end being this highly rated in forever," he later said.

Generally, teams don't act aggressively and leap past others to then acquire someone whose primary gig is a task other than throwing passes. But the hype surrounding Pitts is big and if Rivera wants to stick to the plan of creating the most well-rounded squad possible before settling on his quarterback, snagging Pitts and sticking him on an offense that looks poised for a major step forward would be a coup. 

The price of such a transaction will factor into Washington's desire to pull all of this off (nice point, Mr. Obvious, you may be saying). It's difficult to predict the specifics of the hypothetical deal, but Rivera and Co. would need to be prepared to at least ship off their first-rounder this year, a first-rounder next year and a couple of other Day 2/Day 3 pieces, or bid farewell to one of their up-and-comers like Daron Payne. The trade would no doubt sting.

 

So, for that reason as well as where Washington is — a tier or two away from comfortably claiming that they're legit contenders — in its rebuild, they might gladly allow a competitor to partner up with the Falcons for the blockbuster. 

That said, if they've assigned a top grade to a QB that they believe they'd land at No. 4 or if they view Pitts as favorably as Cooley does, they should be all systems go in terms of shooting their shot.

If you want to separate the passers from Pitts because the former will — if he hits — be more impactful, that's fine. Regardless, the bottom line is that Washington has been waiting and waiting and waiting for the right window to try and turn things around.

Perhaps it's time to stop for them to quit waiting and simply attack.