5 free agents the Atlanta Falcons must keep in 2022
2. Isaiah Oliver
It doesn’t feel like that long ago we were getting ready to write Isaiah Oliver off as yet another second-round bust. The Colorado product struggled mightily as the team’s CB2 on the outside, regularly finding himself burnt over the top, or giving up penalties in an attempt to avoid further embarrassment.
That all changed, however, as he was shifted inside to play as the Falcons’ primary slot-corner. As the Falcons endured a difficult start to 2021, Oliver thrived, enjoying a PFF coverage rating of 76.3, and an overall rating of 72.6; a career-high.
And then he injured his knee, ending his season four games into the year.
The Falcons never really filled the gap left by Oliver from that stage forward. Avery Williams and Darren Hall seemed to split the role, but neither were convincing as a potential replacement moving forward.
With the season winding to a close, Dean Pees made it clear that he wanted just the one player to play that role where possible. Given his early success in the Pees system, Oliver should be the guy to play that role.
Granted, it is a risk to bring someone back following a knee injury. But, given the Falcons relatively tight cap situation, it could prove to be a shrewd move, for both parties.
Atlanta could conceivably retain a player capable of operating at a good to a great level in this system while paying him at a team-friendly level. And, if Oliver can both prove his fitness and his worth, he’d be in line for a greater payday down the line, either with the Falcons or elsewhere. It’s a move that just makes sense.