Johnston: Falcons ‘had to make’ blockbuster trade

Cleveland coach Pat Shurmur has every right to refer to the draft-day trade between the Browns and Falcons that netted his team five picks in exchange for the No. 6 overall selection as “probably one of the greatest trades in draft history.”

Many view the trade similarly. No question the Falcons paid a high price in shipping the No. 27 overall pick, plus their fourth- and seventh-round picks this year and first- and fourth-round picks next year, to move up 21 spots to get WR Julio Jones.

Ignoring snap-judgments for a moment, every trade has two sides. NFL Network analyst Daryl Johnston sees it as a deal the Falcons, coming off a 13-3 season, “had to make” because their window to win is now.

“Teams aren’t foolish enough to set their franchise back without getting something they really feel they have to have to get a championship,” Johnston says. “The Falcons had home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs but couldn’t keep up with the Packers on their home field. They had to combat that, and points are at a premium in the NFL.

“Add all their pieces together, and you can see why the Falcons felt it was so necessary, and wagered so much, to move up to get Jones. … If Jones is who a lot of people think he will be — especially the Falcons — this could be a good deal for them.”

If the Falcons believe they are contenders and Jones is the one missing piece in an offensive puzzle that includes Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner, it’s both an astute and aggressive move. And, as Johnston suggests, don’t discount that the deal also sends a clear message to the locker room the team believes it can win now.

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