Younghoe Koo is an exclusive-rights free agent, which is defined as any player with fewer than three accrued seasons and an expired contract. If the player’s original team offers him a one-year contract and the league minimum (based on his credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams. Essentially, Terry Fontenot can bring back one of the best kickers in the NFL for the league minimum — $850,000.
Koo converted more field goals (37) than anyone in the league this year, with the third-highest percentage (94.4%). He was also tied with Jason Sanders and Daniel Carlson for the most points (144). Most impressive about Koo’s leg is his accuracy from deep, kicking a perfect 8-of-8 beyond 50 yards — tied for second with Sanders in the league and behind only Brandon McManus.
Other than the miss against Kansas City, Koo was one of the few bright spots of 2020 for the Falcons. He not only takes immense pressure off the offense every time they reach the 35-yard line, but he’s proven to be one of, if not the best, onside-kickers in the league. He has often kept the Falcons in games by just putting the ball in a 50/50 position for the special teams unit — truly a weapon that almost no other team has.
There should be no reason Terry Fontenot doesn’t sign him for the league minimum again this season. Still, eventually he will have to decide whether inking Koo is feasible given the Falcons’ salary cap dilemma. The Miami Dolphins announced they have signed their kicker, Jason Sanders, to a five-year, $22 million deal with $10 million in guarantees. That has officially set the bar for Younghoe Koo who, by every standard, was better than Sanders over the past two seasons.
Miami Dolphins are signing kicker Jason Sanders to a five-year, $22 million extension that includes $10 million guaranteed and ties him to the Dolphins through the 2026 season, per source. Sanders is one of the league’s top kickers and now will be paid like it.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 16, 2021
This isn’t an issue that needs immediate fixing but one that will require Fontenot’s attention at some point. It would behoove the front office to sign Koo then start working on an extension because the price will go up if he has another performance in 2021 like he did in 2020. It sometimes feels sour to give a kicker a $22 million contract, but they are critical to a team’s overall success, and reliable kickers are hard to come by. Hopefully, the two sides are able to work out a reasonable deal that keeps Koo in Atlanta for the foreseeable future.