The Atlanta Falcons swung for the fences on Thursday. They told the league "Our time is now, and we're going to give it everything." They seem to believe they have a Super Bowl team and a few pieces will get them the Lombardi Trophy. They traded two first-round draft pick, a second-rounder and two fourth-rounders for the right to pick WR Julio Jones, and while this player will undoubtedly make their offense a whole lot scarier, they're far from complete on offense and on defense. Tony Gonzalez is competent but aging and not the player he used to be, and their offensive line is nothing more than decent. On defense, though, they have mediocre players everywhere and no real standouts. Their only pass rusher, John Abraham, will be 33 next season and he won't last much longer. So why did they think they could get there with this trade? Two words: Rich McKay.
While their GM Thomas Dimitroff has been widely credited for making this trade, it reeks of Rich McKay. The former Bucs GM is currently the Falcons' team president, but Bucs fans will know him best for his tenure with the Bucs which ultimately resulted in a Super Bowl championship. To get that Super Bowl championship McKay spent most of the late '90s and early '00s trying to get the Bucs over the hump. He traded away two first-round picks for Keyshawn Johnson in 2000. He lasted four years with the Bucs and though he was a valuable player for the Bucs, his play never quite justified his price. McKay spent a lot of money on highly priced free agents, some of whom succeeded like Simeon Rice, some of whom failed fairly miserably. The Falcons have done the same thing, paying a hefty price for a solid but unspectacular cornerback in Dunta Robinson.
In the end it all worked out as the Bucs did win a Super Bowl, but the years after the Super Bowl were less glamorous. The lack of first-round draft picks coupled with some poor drafts left the Bucs without young talent on the roster. The excessive free agency spending led to salary cap problems for Tampa Bay. This in turn led to the release of some franchise icons like Warren Sapp and John Lynch, while the Bucs couldn't spend much in free agency to replace aging players. All of that was a consequence of the mentality of trying to get the Buccaneers over the hump, instead of continuing with building through the draft. The dynasties I can think of did no such thing, and won multiple Super Bowls because they had a plan and stuck to it throughout.
The Falcons are now trying to get over the hump, and they will be a tough team to beat in the near future. But their decisions may be scuttling their future as a team to be reckoned with. I just hope the Buccaneers don't decide they need to sell out their future to get over the hump at some point.