The Atlanta Falcons traded themselves into an interesting situation when they snagged Jeff Okudah. They needed a cornerback to pair with A.J. Terrell and they banked on the former third-overall pick from the Detroit Lions.
Related: These Atlanta Falcons are entering the final year of their contracts
While Okudah doesn't have any lack of talent, he has had a lack of consistency when it comes to health and play on the field. He is entering the final year of his rookie deal which begs the question, should the Falcons bank on his talent and extend him before he even takes a snap for the Falcons?
Would it be worth the risk to extend Jeff Okudah before he takes the field for the Atlanta Falcons?
This is an interesting topic to debate about. Jeff Okudah is entering the fourth and final year of his rookie deal since his fifth-year option was voided. We all know that the former third-overall pick has all the talent in the world but his career has been disappointing—hence why the Lions parted with him for a fifth-round pick. The Atlanta Falcons clearly trust that they can turn him around, however, do they trust him enough to give him an extension prior to his first season with the Falcons?
If the Falcons truly believe that he will have a breakout year then they should start negotiations with him right now.
With him being due to hit free agency next year, each play he makes during the 2023 season will only bump his asking price. Extend him now and you might find yourself with a team-friendly deal a year from now. That would certainly be welcomed with an A.J. Terrell extension potentially looming.
If you don't extend Jeff Okudah now and he goes on to dominate, then you might be watching him walk out the door. The Falcons will have some money to spend and could certainly afford him no matter what happens, but how much is Terry Fontenot willing to invest in two cornerbacks?
There is another side to this story though. Clearly, you can't extend Okudah if he is dead set on hitting the open market next year. It could take some negotiating to even get him to open his ears to an extension. Throwing in some heavy incentives might convince him to take an early payday and secure himself financially.
If you were to ask me, I think it would be a good idea to at least look into it. Championship teams are always ahead of the curve in securing their cornerstones. While Okudah isn't a cornerstone quite yet, he certainly has the potential to be one.