After the conclusion of the 2021 Atlanta Falcons season, they are set to have a whopping 21 unrestricted free agents as well as three restricted free agents. Of the 24 players, are there any worth bringing back in 2022?
When looking at the Atlanta Falcons free agents for 2022, there are quite a few players that pending a great 2021 season you could argue should be back. However, there are just two that general manager Terry Fontenot has to bring back.
Of the 21 soon-to-be unrestricted free agents, eight of them were just signed during this free-agent season – Cordarrelle Patterson, Erik Harris, Barkevious Mingo, A.J. McCarron, Duron Harmon, Josh Andrews, Fabian Moreau, and Brandon Copeland.
We obviously have no idea how any of them will perform in 2021 and if they will be worthy enough to bring back in 2022.
The two most important 2022 Atlanta Falcons unrestricted free agents
Looking at this list, there are two Atlanta Falcons players that have to be brought back on deals longer than one year. These two have been tremendous during their short time in Atlanta and should be part of the long-term success as the franchise works toward its first Super Bowl win.
Younghoe Koo – Kicker
Everyone loves to degrade kickers but the reality is having a good kicker is far better than having a guy that is inconsistent or not good at all.
A great kicker like Matt Bryant and like Koo, give the offense confidence that most drives will end in points and that is something most teams wish they had. It also allows offensive coordinators to take more chances and to open up the playbook.
Knowing that if you can get the ball to the opponent’s 35-yard line you can walk away with points is a great tool to have in your arsenal. No one likes having to settle for a field goal but again, it’s better than the alternative – especially considering most NFL games are decided by one possession.
Koo has signed back-to-back-to-back one-year deals since replacing the franchise’s best kicker in Matt Bryant.
He signed a $645 thousand deal in 2019, a year $750 thousand deal in 2020, and recently signed another one-year deal to make $920 thousand for the 2021 NFL season. Given Koo’s only competition for the league’s best kicker, Jason Sanders recently signed a 5-year $22 million deal, Koo is worth more money and a longer contract.
Foyesade Oluokun – Linebacker
The former Ivy League linebacker has gotten better each of his first three years in the NFL. Given the type of defense that new defensive coordinator Dean Pees loves to run, everyone should be excited about what Foye Oluokun will do in 2021.
In 2020, Foye was fourth in the NFL in forced fumbles with four on the season – he recovered one of them. He also led the Atlanta Falcons with 117 tackles, which was good for 23rd overall across the NFL.
His size, speed, and football IQ make him an ideal linebacker for Pees, and that Foye should be able to ride the momentum he brings into 2021 into a long-term deal.
While there is a lot of uncertainty with the Atlanta Falcons cap situation and some of that will be resolved over the next 30 days as everyone expects the team to make some very unpopular decisions with a few of the franchise’s best players.
However, signing these two guys to long-term extensions after the 2021 season makes sense for all parties involved.