December 5, 2023

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder got much-needed help in the receiving corps two days after the first 300-yard passing game of his career.

NFL Network reported on Tuesday that the Falcons picked up wide receiver Van Jefferson and a seventh-round pick in the 2025 NFL Draft from the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for the Falcons’ sixth-rounder in the same draft.

The Rams selected Jefferson out of the University of Florida in the second round of the 2020 draft. In his 2021 campaign, Jefferson posted 802 yards and six touchdowns, both career highs, for a team that won the Super Bowl.

Beyond a swap of draft picks and some new scenery, what does each party get out of the deal? Let’s look more closely at what this trade means.

Wide Receiver Van Jefferson
Van Jefferson #12 of the Los Angeles Rams looks on from the field at Paycor Stadium on September 25, 2023, in Cincinnati, Ohio. Jefferson was traded to the Atlanta Falcons along with L.A.’s 2025 seventh-round pick in exchange for Atlanta’s sixth-rounder in the same draft.
Cooper Neill/Getty Images

What Do the Falcons Get Out of the Deal?

The Falcons have a winning record despite getting little production in the passing game. Tight ends Jonnu Smith (246) and Kyle Pitts (208) have the most receiving yards for the Falcons but neither has found the end zone this season. Their top producing wide receiver, Drake London, is averaging just over 40 yards per game, and has found the end zone twice. The only other player to catch a touchdown this season is rookie running back Bijan Robinson.

If Jefferson can reach his 2021 output from the Rams Super Bowl run, he can help a Falcons team in an NFC South that’s up for grabs. His production has slowed but his yards per catch average would rank ahead of most of the current Falcons roster.

The Falcons have winnable games over the next six weeks, including divisional games against New Orleans and Tampa Bay. The Falcons, Saints and Buccaneers sit with three wins each in the NFC South.

What’s in the Deal for the Rams?

The Rams didn’t have a substantial role for Jefferson, who didn’t make a catch or get a target during last week’s loss against the Eagles. Jefferson had eight catches for 108 yards this season.

The emergence of rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, the return of Cooper Kupp and the steady play from third-year receiver Tutt Atwell left little room for Jefferson to catch passes from quarterback Matthew Stafford.

What’s in the Deal for Jefferson?

While the focus is often on which team won or lost a deal, this could be a win for Jefferson himself. In the last year of his rookie contract, the wideout will be a free agent next season. Rather than standing on the sidelines, the move could be an opportunity for Jefferson to demonstrate his value to the Falcons and the other teams in the NFL. If he performs well, the reward could be a lucrative deal.