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Van Jefferson trade grades: Rams vs Falcons - Who came out on top?

Atlanta Falcons acquire wide receiver Van Jefferson from the Los Angeles Rams in a trade, bolstering their receiving corps.

The Atlanta Falcons made a significant move on Tuesday to strengthen their wide receiver group by acquiring Van Jefferson from the Los Angeles Rams through a trade. Jefferson, who was a second-round pick for the Rams in 2020, had an impressive breakout season in 2021, recording 50 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns as the Rams went on to win Super Bowl 56 in February.

However, Jefferson's role diminished this season as Puca Nacua, a fifth-round pick in 2023, emerged as the primary receiving option for the Rams while star wideout Cooper Kupp was on injured reserve. With Kupp's return to the team, Jefferson was sent to the Falcons for the remainder of his rookie contract.

Now, let's delve into the details of this trade and how it affects both teams. According to the Rams, the transaction involved the Rams receiving a 2025 sixth-round pick, while the Falcons acquired Jefferson and a 2025 seventh-round pick.

This isn't the first time the Rams have traded an offensive player from their 2020 draft class this season, as running back Cam Akers was traded to the Minnesota Vikings in September. With Kupp and Nacua firmly established as the top two receivers for the Rams, and 2021 draft pick Tutu Atwell taking on a larger role in the offense, Jefferson found himself as the odd man out. Considering the Rams' recent Super Bowl victory in 2022, trading two second-round picks from the 2020 draft class for relatively modest compensation isn't a significant blow. Additionally, it's unlikely that Jefferson would have re-signed with the Rams after this season.

Trading Jefferson to the Falcons benefits the player, as he will have the opportunity to potentially thrive in a system that suits him. Furthermore, Falcons coach Arthur Smith may have familiarity with Jefferson from their time together at Ravenwood High School in Tennessee when Smith was with the Tennessee Titans. While it's worth considering whether the Rams could have waited to trade Jefferson to a team in need of a wide receiver closer to the NFL Trade Deadline for a higher return, the Rams still made a good move by sending Jefferson to a favorable situation and receiving a higher pick in 2025.

For the Falcons, this trade is a great move as it adds a much-needed vertical threat to their offense in Jefferson. Smith's previous coaching experience alongside Jefferson's father, Shawn Jefferson, who was a wide receivers coach for the Titans, and the potential familiarity between Smith and Jefferson from their high school days in Tennessee, could contribute to a smooth transition for the player. Prior to this trade, the Falcons had a thin wide receiver group with only four players on the roster. Adding Jefferson provides depth to the position and has the potential to elevate their passing game, which showed signs of improvement in their recent game against the Houston Texans. Since Jefferson's contract expires at the end of the season, the Falcons are only risking a lower late-round pick in 2025 if the trade doesn't work out.

Overall, this trade receives a grade of B for the Rams and an A for the Falcons. It's a smart move for the Falcons, who are taking a calculated risk that could pay off if Jefferson returns to his 2021 form.

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