Cornerback could be a strength for the Atlanta Falcons in 2022. The Falcons have one of the best corners in the NFL in A.J. Terrell to build around, but outside of him, there are some solid corners who can be solid role players within the coverage schemes Dean Pees deploys. The big focus for the Falcons will be trying to increase the length at the position and trying to see if they can continue to get more solid man coverage cornerbacks for the roster.
Atlanta Falcons Cornerbacks Under Contract:
CB A.J. Terrell: 2 years, $8.453 million left on his contract and a potential fifth year option
CB Kendall Sheffield: 1 year, $2.73 million left on his contract
RS/CB Avery Williams: 3 years, $3.0 million left on his contract
CB Darren Hall: 3 years, $3.424 million left on his contract
CB Cornell Armstrong: 1 year, $965,000 left on his contract
DB/CB Lafayette Pitts: 1 year, $1.035 million left on his contract
CB Corey Ballentine: 1 year, $895,000 left on his contract
CB Dee Alford: 1 year, $705,000 left on his contract
The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of talent locked in cheaply at cornerback for the 2022 season. This includes the Falcons No. 1 corner A.J. Terrell. The PFF All-Pro is arguably the best cover corner in the NFL. Darren Hall and Avery Williams are great fits for the Pees scheme.
Cornell Armstrong, Lafayette Pitts, and Dee Alford were all futures contracts who can compete for roster spots that fit into the scheme. Corey Ballentine is a former starter for the Giants who can potentially be that Fabian Moreau in 2022 for Atlanta.
Unrestricted Free Agents:
CB Fabian Moreau
CB Isaiah Oliver
Both of these cornerbacks should be brought back for different reasons. Fabian Moreau should be a cheap option who could continue to compete for depth with the Falcons even if he misses out on the starting role. Isaiah Oliver was Dean Pees preferred nickel back before the Falcons lost him due to injury. If they can bring him back on a prove-it type deal for a year and he stays healthy, it would give the Falcons someone who could really elevate the defense in 2022.
The Atlanta Falcons have a solid need for a second cornerback even if the Falcons re-sign Fabian Moreau. Potential options for the Falcons in free agency are guys like Jason Verrett, Casey Heyward, and for a more long-term option Carlton Davis. These are all talented starting options, but they could end up being just out of the price range. Depending on overall cost, the Falcons should at least consider all three of these options.
Potential Future Need
The long-term need for a cornerback across from A.J. Terrell is there. However, the team could see it as filled if Darren Hall or Avery Williams drastically improve their coverage abilities. That’s unlikely, but the team could end up liking the idea of having Isaiah Oliver come back for a year and then seeing what they have. However, they could also see someone like Sauce Gardner or Coby Bryant or Andrew Booth as their future starter across from Terrell long term.
What the Atlanta Falcons Plan at Cornerback Should Be Moving Forward
There’s a lot of potential on this unit. However, moving forward, the Falcons should cut Kendall Sheffield for the cap space it would bring. After that, considering a free agent for around the same money Sheffield was going to make is an avenue to consider. If they can’t get one of those, drafting someone at any point in the draft to compete with Darren Hall and Avery Williams at right cornerback is the move to make. At nickel, bringing back Isaiah Oliver is the move.