The promising news is the Falcons have done a decent job patching some of the holes on their roster by signing Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler, as well as trading for Hayden Hurst. Unfortunately, they have limited cap space to make additional moves outside of the NFL Draft, and they had to cut Desmond Trufant to open up some money for Gurley and Fowler. This leaves the Falcons with a massive hole in their cornerback group. As things stand on paper, this is one of the worst units in the NFL, and they are in a division that features both Drew Brees and Tom Brady. If they do not patch up their secondary, these other moves will not matter in the first place.
The Falcons have the luxury of using their first-round pick on a cornerback, but relying on a rookie as one of your top corners is a gamble, regardless of the prospect. I fully expect the Falcons to address the position one way or another in the NFL Draft, but they are going to have to bring in some sort of veteran help.
Chase Irle broke down a few cornerback options still on the open market that could be of help, mentioning Brandon Carr, Daryl Worley, and Tramon Williams as options. Other corners such as Johnathan Joseph, Trumaine Johnson, Javien Elliot, Tramaine Brock, Logan Ryan, Darqueze Dennard, and Prince Amukamara remain available as well. If there is one position to still pick up some depth at this point in free agency, its cornerback, but it all boils down to cost.
One option that recently became available is former Bengal Dre Kirkpatrick. The first-round pick out of Alabama was cut more so due to being a cap casualty as opposed to porous performance, but he did only play in six games last season. Kirkpatrick was signed to a big-time contract back in 2017, and while he has not lived up to that billing, he is still a quality NFL corner who immediately becomes one of the best available players on the open market. Since he was cut, signing him would not prevent the team from receiving compensatory picks next season, though they may have to restructure some deals to open up the cap space it would take to add him to the mix.
With that being said, it is not going to take a deal worth over $10 million AAV like he was signed to in 2017 for his services. Kirkpatrick deserved that contract but has been limited to 19 games in the past two seasons, with zero interceptions to show for it, as the Bengals fell apart as a team. His medicals will be a significant factor in deciding whether he is worth an investment now that he is on the wrong side of 30 years old, but those have become impossible to conduct thanks to the coronavirus, which may be another thing that deters the Falcons.
I am not going to sit here and say Kirkpatrick does not come without risk, but he’s a decent buy-low candidate. A one-year deal under $5 million could benefit both sides, as a change of scenery could do him well. Adding a veteran such as Kirkpatrick and pairing him with a first-round corner may just be enough to mask the Falcons’ most significant flaw heading into 2020.