NFL pundits have floated the Atlanta Falcons as a potential destination for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance multiple times before Friday. Most recently CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin connected the Falcons to Lance on August 23.
UPDATE: The Cowboys and 49ers completed a deal for Trey Lance on Friday Night.
But ESPN’s Bill Barnwell seemed to finally explain the most logical way the former No. 3 overall pick could land in Atlanta.
“They are full steam ahead with Desmond Ridder, but the 2022 third-rounder averaged 6.2 yards per attempt in his first four starts last season,” Barnwell wrote. “He deserves time to figure things out and will get it as Atlanta’s Week 1 starter, but the Falcons spent heavily on their defense and have too much talent on offense to settle in a wide-open NFC South. Adding Lance would allow coach Arthur Smith to integrate the quarterback into the team’s rushing attack, as he did with Marcus Mariota a year ago.
“This might be more likely to happen around Halloween if Ridder struggles through an uneven September and October.”
Without a doubt, the Falcons are Ridder’s team at the moment. That’s what makes acquiring Lance before this season so unlikely.
But it’s not clear yet how long of a leash Ridder will receive. Arthur Blank made headlines when he said the 2023 season is Year 3 of 3 for head coach Arthur Smith. It’s possible that with a slow start, Smith could begin feeling pressure to make a quarterback change.
The Falcons have veteran Taylor Heinicke to turn to on the bench. But he’s not the long-term solution.
If Ridder is also deemed not a long-term solution behind center before the trade deadline, the Falcons should pursue Lance.
As Barnwell explained, Lance is still only 23 years old. He’s younger than notable draft picks Will Levis and Kenny Pickett. He’s also younger than Joe Burrow when he made his NFL debut.
Barnwell estimated that Lance could also be acquired from San Francisco for only a mid-round draft pick.
With his upside, the Falcons would be foolish not to kick the tires around Lance. However, it only makes sense to do that after the team has made its final determination on Ridder.
Lance has appeared in eight NFL games, making four starts. He has posted a 54.9% completion percentage while averaging 7.8 yards per pass. He also has 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions with 235 rushing yards.
As a starter, Lance has posted a 2-2 record.