The Falcons signed an unfathomable number of one-year deals this offseason under first-year general manager Terry Fontenot. The roster turnover from a year ago is insurmountable because Fontenot was gutting the excess personnel he, the front office, and Arthur Smith felt weren’t going to help them win games, or their production didn’t warrant their salaries. Regardless, there are over 20 players on one-year deals that I forsee making the final 53-man roster. Some will garner new deals and extensions, while others are closer to stop-gap players and likely will test free agency in 2022.
I’ll be splitting those playing in contract years into two groups — acquired through draft, undrafted, and practice squad; acquired through trade and free agency — to analyze what chances they have at earning another contract from the Falcons.
Dante Fowler, Hayden Hurst, Lee Smith, Cordarrelle Patterson, Barkevious Mingo, Duron Harmon, A.J. McCarron, Steven Means, Josh Andrews, Fabian Moreau, Brandon Copeland, Tajae Sharpe, Younghoe Koo, Jaeden Graham, Erik Harris
Of the aforementioned 2022 free agents, Younghoe Koo has the absolute best chance of singing an extension even before the 2021 season ends, which would surely be a three-to-four-year deal. Fowler, Hurst, Harmon, and Moreau have decent chances at returning to Atlanta next season if they impress in their roles this year, and I would gravitate towards just one-to-two-year deals for this group. Smith, Patterson, Mingo, McCarron, Harris, and Means are older players, but each provides a valuable and specific skill for an organization; these are strictly one-year extensions but could be considered 50/50. Then there are players like Andrews, Copeland, and Graham, who will likely not return next year on any kind of deal.
Isaiah Oliver, Foyesade Oluokun, Deadrin Senat, Matt Gono, Russell Gage, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Olamide Zaccheaus
Gage and Oluokun seem like the two who will most likely get multi-year deals after this season if they perform as I expect — the former being a breakout candidate and the latter already showcasing his talent in 2020. Oliver, Gono, Zaccheaus, and JTM are all fence guys that could earn a new one-year deal but would have to impress this season, proving to the staff they’ve found their niche. Senat is more than likely not returning next year on any kind of deal.
The new regime will continue to manipulate this roster until they believe their in striking distance of a Super Bowl window, then they’ll be more aggressive in free agency. Until then, expect multi year contract extensions to be few and far between, especially among these contract year players, who were mostly acquired this offseason.