The Atlanta Falcons seem to have solved their backup quarterback dilemma on Wednesday, trading linebacker Akeem Dent to the Houston Texans for quarterback T.J. Yates.
Yates immediately brings the Falcons more starting experience than quarterbacks that are currently behind starter Matt Ryan. Yates has five career starts under his belt and made a name for himself as a rookie in 2011, leading the Texans to the first playoff victory in franchise history after replacing injured starter Matt Schaub.
Yates, who grew up in Marietta, Georgia, played in 13 games with the Texans. He has career totals of 1,100 passing yards, three touchdowns, and six interceptions as well as 17 rushing attempts for 56 yards and one touchdown.
The Falcons have shuffled the depth chart at QB instantly, as it now appears that the backup role is Yates’ to lose. Also in the running to back up Ryan is last year’s backup Dominique Davis, 2013 draft pick Sean Renfree, and rookie free agent Jeff Matthews. It seems like a safe assumption that the team will carry three quarterbacks during the regular season, while the remaining two either move to the practice squad or are given their outright release.
In order to bring Yates aboard, the team waved goodbye to Dent, who the team selected in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. The team hoped that the former Georgia Bulldog would develop into a player much like then-teammate Curtis Lofton, but it never panned out. Dent leaves Atlanta with 20 career starts along with 81 total tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Atlanta moved swiftly to fill the vacancy left by Dent, signing veteran Tim Dobbins to an undisclosed contract. Dobbins’ addition brings an eight-year veteran to a linebacker corps that currently features five rookies along with four players that just completed their first year in the NFL.
The deal that general manager Thomas Dimitroff pulled off on Wednesday was an excellent one given the situation at hand. In acquiring Yates, the Falcons add a young player that is short of a sure thing yet provides more comfort than any other signal callers outside of Matty Ice. Also important in the trade is the fact that Atlanta only gave up a linebacker that was more than likely going to end up on the chopping block this preseason, considering his struggles and the team’s transition to the 3-4 defense.
Falcons fans are hopeful that they never see Yates grace the field once the regular season gets under way, but they should rest assured that if the situation calls for it, he would give Atlanta the best chance at staying afloat in Ryan’s absence.