The Falcons' locker room, already a bit down about a 1-6 start, probably lost a little more of its vibe when the team traded respected wide receiver Mohamed Sanu to the New England Patriots for a second-round draft pick. Sanu, 30, was a reliable third-down target who enhanced the team with his versatility and personality. But the Falcons probably weren't going to re-sign him after 2020.
"There's a value every player has, so you take Mo's situation," Mack said. "It's a year and a half, and he's valuable and a great player, and so he's going to be valuable for the Patriots. Also for the Falcons, you have a second-round pick that can be a really good player. You look at how many great guys in this league are second-round picks. You get that player for four or five years, and you have a team like us with cap problems.
"But there's also like 'a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush' kind-of-thing: You know how good of a player Mo is; you don't know how good future draft picks are going to be. It's tough. It's a total business thing. That's why there's a GM upstairs, and I'm a center at his locker."
There might be some more tough business decisions upcoming for general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn before the Oct. 29 trade deadline, even if neither guy is a part of the team beyond this season. The Falcons already have put 2015 first-round draft pick Vic Beasley on the trade block -- as Beasley acknowledged himself -- although there hasn't been any movement on that front with Beasley owed the prorated portion of his $12.81 million salary for 2019. The fact Beasley is being dangled, and that Sanu already was moved, says the Falcons have turned toward building for the future amid what looks like a lost season.
Quinn, on the hot seat while losing five in a row, maintains he's not giving up on this season, although the implications from the Sanu trade would say otherwise.
"Most of the players, they would know me pretty well to know that I never tap [out], ever," Quinn said. "They would know that would not be the case.
"They might not agree with [trades]. Not every player has to. They don't have to understand that side of it. But they've got to know, 'Hey, this is what we think is best, and we're down.' That doesn't mean they don't love the player that got moved or waived or traded. They do. But at the end of it, my decisions, like Thomas' as well, is do whatever is best for the team."
Dimitroff's future as the GM might be unclear, but collecting high draft picks like the second-rounder from the Pats could be a way to sell owner Arthur Blank on a plan to restock the roster for the future while navigating around the salary-cap issues. The Falcons' top seven cap figures for 2020 --- Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant, and Mack -- will account for more than $127 million in cap space if no adjustments are made to those deals.
So after Sanu, who else would the Falcons be willing to trade to acquire picks with which to rebuild?
Would they part ways with cornerback Trufant, a one-time Pro Bowler who has three years and $35.25 million left on his deal if a team was willing to take on that contract and surrender a higher pick? The Falcons are developing a rookie left cornerback in Kendall Sheffield, with Trufant (toe) rehabbing.
Would they let go of tight end Austin Hooper, who is playing at the top of his game and is in the final year of his contract? It probably wouldn't make sense, considering Dimitroff said the 24-year-old Hooper is a guy deserving of an extension, and Hooper is one of the draft picks the Falcons have developed into a Pro Bowler. Plus, who would trade for essentially an eight-game rental based on Hooper going into the last year of his contract, unless there was some type of sign-and-trade scenario?
Would they trade anyone along the struggling offensive line? The most valuable player on that line right now is Mack who, at age 33, has one more year left on his deal and is due to make $8 million next season. Maybe the Falcons would consider it if a team wanted Mack and if the plan was to move rookie first-rounder Chris Lindstrom from right guard to center, but there's been no indication of that.
"You want to be valuable and you want the team to want you," Mack said. "I also know it's a business and it's something you can't control. You do the best you can.
"You could throw a huge stink if you got traded. Or you could go roll with the punches. I don't know exactly how it's been. I've never been in that situation. Hopefully, I don't have to."
Maybe no one else will be moved, including Beasley. That doesn't mean the Falcons won't be working the phones up until the deadline.
Asked if he anticipated anymore moves, Quinn responded, "I would say there's more talking, usually, than doing when it comes to that."