As I near the end of this series of Atlanta Falcons’ extension candidates, we take a look at a player who can prove himself as the #1 corner in a secondary that is desperate for consistent play. If he does that this year, the Falcons will compensate him accordingly. If you missed any of the previous installments of this series, click the links below.
I don’t believe I was the only one surprised when the Falcons decided to cut Desmond Trufant this offseason. It wasn’t because Trufant had done anything to prove he was worth the money he was due but more because of the lack of options the Falcons had behind him.
Starting across from Trufant last year was Isaiah Oliver, who will assume his role as the leader in the secondary entering his third season. That’s a pretty horrifying thought, considering he surrendered 30 catches on 45 targets for 427 yards and three touchdowns while committing five penalties in the first eight games — good for a 119.4 passer rating against him. However, Oliver’s second half of last season is the reason coaches believe he’s ready.
“The Blanket,” as he’s now referred to, began playing like a starting cornerback once Raheem Morris took over as the secondary coach and limited his penalties to just three in the final eight games. New Falcons secondary coach, Joe Whitt Jr., believes his success is sustainable too, thanks to improved technique.
“I thought over the last eight games he did a really good job of connecting his feet and his hands in his press game,” Whitt said. “He stayed more square. That gave him the ability once they got up the field to connect at the top of the routes.”
Still, this is a leap of faith by the Falcons coaching staff, one that could have substantial dividends or end up costing them a shot at the playoffs altogether.
Oliver is entering the second to last year of his contract, making his path for an extension simple. Perfrom, and he will be paid handsomely this offseason. Across the league, cornerback is one of the highest-paid positions in the game. The Falcons currently have a few million invested in the entire position group. They need to find answers at cornerback now and for the future. Oliver can prove to be one of those answers, and if he does, the Falcons won’t want to risk him hitting the open market in 2022.