Report: Falcons Turned Down Easy Trade Down With Bears

The Chicago Bears Made an offer the Atlanta Falcons couldn’t refuse on NFL Draft night, but the Falcons did anyway.
Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot turned down a trade with the Chicago Bears on NFL Draft night.
Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot turned down a trade with the Chicago Bears on NFL Draft night. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A significant development unfolded just before the Atlanta Falcons made their first-round selection in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Chicago Bears' general manager, Ryan Poles, showcased his strategic prowess by presenting a remarkably generous offer to the Falcons' management, setting the scene for a potential game-changer. 

"The Bears were open to trading a future 4th to the Falcons to move from 9 to 8 to secure Rome Odunze," wrote Ari Meirov on X about the Bears' released draft-night footage. "Seems like Atlanta wasn't interested. The Bears still got Odunze. But this feels noteworthy after Atlanta lost a future 5th this week for tampering."

This is quite an objective insight into what transpired on draft night. The Bears were willing to trade up a spot because they most likely believed that the Falcons would take the top defensive player on the board or Odunze. They wanted to incentivize the Falcons from taking the playmaker they coveted.

Turns out, the Bears needn't have worried about the Falcons nabbing their man. Having taken Caleb Williams with the No. 1 overall pick. There was no chance the Bears were going to turn around and take Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 if they swapped places with the Falcons.

Considering that no defensive players had been taken in the top seven picks, Poles was making a wisely calculated move to select their target, WR Romeo Odunze. However, Atlanta Falcons manager Terry Fontenot declined to receive a future 4th-round selection and stunned the world by choosing quarterback Michael Penix Jr., despite signing veteran Kirk Cousins to a massive contract in free agency in April. 

One can't help but wonder why the Falcons chose not to trade back.

After much thought, there aren’t many valid reasons why Atlanta would not trade back a spot and essentially take a free 4th rounder. First, they may have thought that the Bears would unload the pick to another quarterback-needy team – such as the Las Vegas Raiders, who were strongly connected to the Washington standout leading up to the draft. 

However, Fontenot could have mitigated those risks by seeking assurances from Poles that the Bears wouldn't trade the picks. Fontenot also could have waited long enough to seal the deal that the Bears wouldn't have had time to flip No. 8 before the Falcons were on the clock at No. 9.

Secondly, it has never been in Terry Fontenot’s nature to trade back in the draft's first round. He never has with the Falcons, and even as an assistant general manager with the New Orleans Saints for a year in 2020 – the organization did not trade back in the first round either.  

While many still wonder about the Falcons’ selection, this should only prolong those conversations.  What exactly did the Falcons have to lose by moving from No. 8 to No. 9?

Scott Kennedy