Desmond Ridder and the Atlanta Falcons get much-needed receiver help ahead of Week 6’s game against the Washington Commanders. The Rams traded Van Jefferson and a 2025 seventh-round pick to the Falcons in exchange for a 2025 sixth-round pick. With the activation of Cooper Kupp from the injured reserve and the emergence of rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, Jefferson fell out of the Rams’ offensive rotation.
The new Atlanta Falcons wide receiver was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in 2020.
The Los Angeles Rams used their 2nd round pick from the Brandin Cooks trade to draft Van Jefferson 57th overall in the 2020 NFL draft. Van was the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart his rookie year, sitting behind Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Josh Reynolds. He appeared in every game during his rookie season, totaling 19 receptions for 220 yards and one touchdown. With the injury to Cooper Kupp in the Wild Card, Jefferson got his first career start in the Divisional Round, catching six passes for 46 yards and one touchdown.
Jefferson got more playing time due to the departure of Josh Reynolds and the injury to Robert Woods in his second season. Jefferson was second on the team with receiving with 50 receptions for 806 yards and six touchdowns. In the playoffs, he had nine receptions for 102 yards.
Jefferson had knee surgery during training camp in his third season. He missed the first two games of 2022, and the Rams placed him on injured reserve before Week 3 and missed the next four games. Los Angeles activated him from the injured reserve on October 24th. Jefferson played in the last 11 games, recording 24 receptions for 369 yards and three touchdowns.
The emergence of Puka Nacua
Los Angeles drafted Puka Nacua in the 5th round, 177th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft. With the emergence of Puka Nacua, Tutu Atwell, and the recent activation of Cooper Kupp from the injured reserve, Jefferson fell out of the rotation. LA had no choice but to trade him. Van Jefferson gets another chance with the Atlanta Falcons.
What does Van bring to the Falcons’ receiving core?
He brings depth to the Falcons’ inexperienced receiving core. He has experience being the starting wide receiver in a talented Los Angeles Rams room. He was the second leading receiver on the Rams Super Bowl team. If he stayed healthy last year, he would still be the starter for the Rams.
He will line up alongside Drake London. Atlanta drafted Drake London 8th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, Drake caught 72 passes for 866 yards and four touchdowns. London is a talented wide receiver.
He will also line up alongside Mack Hollins. During the 2022 season, Mack Hollins emerged as the number two receiver behind Davante Adams with the Las Vegas Raiders, recording 57 receptions for 690 yards and four touchdowns. Atlanta signed him to a 1-year, $2.5 million contract during the offseason.
Hopefully, this move will help the Falcons’ second-year QB.
Hopefully, this acquisition will help improve Desmond Ridder. Atlanta drafted Desmond Ridder in the 3rd round, 74th overall in the 2022 NFL Draft. Ridder sat behind Mariota for 13 games during his rookie season. Mariota got season-ending knee surgery, and Ridder started the last four games. In four games as the starter, Ridder was 2-2, was 73/115 for 708 yards, 63.5% completion percentage, and threw two passing touchdowns.
So far in his first season as the starting quarterback, Ridder is 102/156 for 1,073 yards, 65.4% completion percentage, four touchdowns and three interceptions. Ridder’s numbers aren’t spectacular this season, as the team relies heavily on rookie running back Bijan Robinson.
Hopefully, Van Jefferson will help with Desmond Ridder’s production. Trading for him will improve the Falcons’ receiver depth. If Jefferson plays well, there is a chance that Atlanta will re-sign him during the 2024 offseason.
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