In somewhat of a surprising turn of events, the Falcons extended the contract of Robert Alford for four more years. With three other corners signed through next season, is a position change for Alford in store?
If you had to choose a scapegoat for the defense’s first half struggles in Atlanta…Robert Alford is probably your guy. He’s given up a few big plays and has shown a knack for the untimely pass interference penalty.
Rumors swirled the fourth year veteran might be benched after committing 8 penalties through the first 6 games. Alford certainly drew the ire of many within Falcons Nation.
Oh what a difference six games can make.
“Alford trimmed his penalty total in the last 6 contests has played admirably in the absence of Desmond Trufant.”
Alford trimmed his penalty total in the last 6 contests and has played admirably in the absence of Desmond Trufant. As a result, the Falcons rewarded the former second round pick with a four year contract extension.
Yes, the penalties have overshadowed Robert Alford’s career thus far, but make no mistake about it, he is a quality NFL cornerback.
Known by friends and teammates and Rocky, Alford has been one of the league’s most targeted corners. With the Pro Bowler Trufant taking away the other side of the field, Robert Alford has had plenty of opportunities the last few years to step up for “his brothers”. Opposing teams certainly haven’t shied away from testing him either.
Last year, Alford landed in the top five of all cornerbacks in completion percentage allowed. This season Rocky remains near the top of the league in passes defended and is top 16 for his position in tackles.
When asked what makes him such an asset, head coach Dan Quinn had this to say of Alford:
"“It’s the speed No. 1 that sets [Alford] off. He has a real awareness for the football, in terms of going after it and having a ball-hawking mentality.”"
With Trufant, Jalen Collins, and Brian Poole are already firmly positioned on the Falcons roster, many were surprised at the news of Alford’s extension. Also keep in mind “The Seattle Way” has never placed a heavy emphasis on paying top dollar on both cornerback positions.
So is Robert Alford destined for a position change to free safety?
Free safeties in the Atlanta ‘Cover-1’ and ‘Cover-3 Heavy’ schemes require speed, awareness, and ball skills. Ricardo Allen has fared well in the role the last two seasons, but he lacks the athleticism and ball-hawking skills of Robert Alford.
Allen’s future in Atlanta is uncertain due to his pending, restricted free agency. It’s also not plausible the Falcons would dump more money into the secondary at this time. Keeping Desmond Trufant wont come cheap after the 2017 season.
With the organization set to invest heavily on players in the trenches this offseason, its likely Dan Quinn moves one of his corners to fill a free safety void. The coaching staff had already contemplated moving Alford to the nickel after Atlanta drafted Jalen Collins with their second round pick in 2015.
Robert Alford embraced the change for the betterment of the team, but the move never materialized.