Contrary to some megadeals for one player, the 2011 Julio Jones trade ended up benefiting the team that sacrificed draft picks instead of the franchise that acquired them. And this might come up during Super Bowl LI on Sunday since Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff made the trade against the urging of former boss Bill Belichick.
“Bill was very open about it. He felt it was something he would not do. He said, ‘Thomas, are you sure you want to do this? You’re gonna be tied to this for the rest of your career,'” Dimitroff said, via Michael Silver of NFL.com. “We talked for 30 or 40 minutes. I remember coming back around at the end, saying, ‘All due respect — if and when you see we’re gonna pull the trigger on this tonight, your words didn’t fall on deaf ears.’ And in my mind I was thinking, [Forget] it: We’re doing this. It was surreal. Here’s a Hall of Fame coach and team-builder telling me not to do it, and I’m doing this anyway!”
The Falcons held the No. 27 selection after joining the Patriots as 2010 No. 1 seeds ousted in the divisional round. They surrendered four picks to the Browns for the No. 6 selection. Dimitroff authorized two first-round selections to go to Cleveland in the deal. No players remain on the Browns from that exchange.
Here’s more coming out of the NFC champions’ headquarters on the eve of their first Super Bowl in 18 years.
- Newly crowned NFL MVP Matt Ryan will become the highest-paid player in football if he signs an extension this coming offseason — regardless of Sunday’s result, Joel Corry of CBS Sports tweets. The first Falcon to earn MVP acclaim, the 31-year-old Ryan has two more seasons remaining on his current deal, one that pays him the 11th-most money on average for QBs. But Falcons owner Arthur Blank said this week Ryan “will be” compensated well. He’s playing on the five-year, $103.75MM deal signed in 2013. That deal made Ryan the second-highest-paid player in football at the time. No player presently surpasses the $25MM-AAV mark, and Ryan — on the heels of a dominant regular season and amid a dynamic playoffs — could get there. Walk-year quarterbacks Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr could push for that distinction as well, but Corry believes Ryan’s deal will be the new standard. Andrew Luck‘s $24.59MM per year represents the current high-water mark.
- Alex Mack looks set to play on Sunday after turning heads in practice this week, NFL.com’s Tiffany Blackmon reports (on Twitter). The standout center’s fibula injury “concerned” Dan Quinn this week, with Mack being a key presence in Atlanta’s ground game. Ben Garland serves as the Falcons’ backup center but saw Mack start in each of the NFC champions’ 18 games this season.
- The seminal Jones trade serves as only one of the reasons the Browns helped the Falcons reach this stage. Cleveland bypassing the opportunity to select Teddy Bridgewater or Derek Carr with its No. 23 pick instead of Johnny Manziel in 2014 likely irked then-Browns OC Kyle Shanahan, per Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon Journal, helping lead to his one-year tenure in northeast Ohio. Shanahan soon joined the Falcons after asking to be released from his contract.
- Devonta Freeman is seeking “elite” money on his second contract. The Falcons’ starting running back becomes extension-eligible after the Super Bowl.