Falcons: 2021 Free agents to avoid – Defensive backs

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There are too many articles about who the media thinks the Falcons should sign. In reality, this offseason will be a frugal one. Terry Fontneont has already made it apparent that Atlanta will have to hit on the later draft picks and lower-costing free agents if they want to compete immediately. Some players could provide great value in a saturated free agency class like Duron Harmon, Jamaal Williams, Tyus Bowser, Mike Hilton, or Anthony Firkser, but some free agents will be overpaid.

*All contract projections are via PFF. If you want to read any of our previous editions, you can find those here:


William Jackson (three years, $40 million)

Richard Sherman (two years, $28 million)

Jason Verrett (two years, $10 million)

Kevin King (one year, $3.5 million)

Much like EDGE, cornerback is a premium position and will be paid accordingly. Jackson has never reached the level of play the Bengals drafted him for, but he will still be heavily compensated, which isn’t conducive for Terry Fontenot to do in this rebuild. Sherman is similarly too expensive and closer to a #2 or #3 corner. That is much too hefty of a price to pay for someone who can’t cover the opposing team’s #1. Verrett finally put it all together in 2020 with the 49ers but played fewer than 350 snaps total in the prior three seasons combined. He would be a perfect match, but the injury history has to be concerning for Fontenot and Arthur Smith.

Kevin King is notable for his poor performance in the NFC championship game, but believe me, from someone who watches every Green Bay game, the former Washington Husky isn’t even worth a one-year deal. King has struggled to stay healthy over the past four years, missing a total of 23 games. According to Pro Football Reference, he allowed 63.2 percent of passes to be completed while in coverage, with quarterbacks earning a 96.2 passer rating when throwing his way in 2020.


Earl Thomas (one year, $3.5 million)

Malik Hooker (one year, $2 million)

Justin Simmons (five years, $82.5 million)

Anthony Harris (four years, $56 million)

Even though Earl Thomas on a one-year deal is enticing, the cultural fit between him and what Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith are trying to create just don’t align even slightly. The former Texas Longhorn will get another chance, but it surely won’t be in Atlanta. Hooker is still one of my favorite prospects coming out of college, as true of a centerfield free safety prospect as there has ever been. Unfortunately, injuries have derailed the former Ohio State Buckeye’s career, and the Falcons don’t have the luxury to take a chance on a free agent who is more likely to miss games than play in them. He also thrives in only one area, as a deep safety, whereas Dean Pees needs far more versatile safeties.

Simmons and Harris are completely different players than the aforementioned ones — versatile and ascending safeties. The only reason they are on this list is because I don’t believe the price is worth their future production. The Falcons aren’t going to sign a blue chip free agent unless Fontenot is 100% certain about the value he’s getting.

Photographer: MSA/Icon Sportswire

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