Terry Fontenot signed a litany of one-year stop-gap players to fill needs across the depth chart this offseason because of the team’s salary cap constraints, so when the team acquired Fabian Moreau on a one-year deal worth $1.127 million, I wasn’t necessarily surprised. Moreau was initially selected in the third round of the 2017 NFL draft and played in Jack Del Rio‘s 4-3 defense for just one season before quickly falling out of favor in Washington.
But in 2020, Moreau started to emerge. Thrust into the starting lineup because of an injury to Kyle Fuller, Moreau played 72 snaps in the first two weeks of last season, picking off Carson Wentz in Week 1. However, Fuller got healthy as Ronald Darby and Jimmy Moreland impressed the coaching staff. Hence, Moreau slid down the depth chart, which Ron Rivera eluded to a while back, “Fabian has the misfortune of having good guys around him as well.”
Acquiring Moreau shouldn’t surprise any Falcons fans because if anyone knows what he is capable of, it is Atlanta’s vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith, who undoubtedly had a saying in the Football Team drafting him out of UCLA in 2017. With two weeks left in the regular season, Moreau has performed adequately thus far, even if the majority of fans would tell you differently.
He isn’t A.J. Terrell by any means, which may alter people’s perception of “good” cornerback play. Terrell is one of the very best at his position; the second-year corner has allowed 37 receptions on 74 targets for 362 total yards and three touchdowns while notching two interceptions. Though he was snubbed from the 2021 Pro Bowl, he’ll likely garner All-Pro honors. In comparison, Moreau has given up 51 receptions on 82 targets for 578 yards and seven touchdowns. Sure, that is worse than Terrell, but it is all relative.
To put it into perspective, Trevon Diggs has surrendered 50 receptions on 94 targets for 790 yards and four touchdowns while leading the NFL in interceptions (11). The reality is that Moreau has played perfectly acceptable for his price tag. Out of 85 qualifying cornerbacks, Moreau ranks tied for 19th in targets and receptions, 51st in reception percentage (64.7%), tied for 20th in yards per reception (10.3), and tied for 12th in stops (12). Fans would have you believe that he’s been all bad all the time.
The Falcons could do much worse opposite A.J. Terrell than Moreau. He’s certainly had his share of bad games, but with such a high volume of targets coming his way as quarterbacks refuse to attack Terrell, this was always going to be the case. Those bad games haven’t overshadowed the good things he’s done for this team in my eyes, and unless the Falcons take a cornerback with their first-round pick, Moreau should absolutely be brought back on a similar one-year, team-friendly deal. As the roster meshes with the scheme, the product should be better.
For now, I would say several positions need addressing before cornerback — EDGE, G, T, WR, DT. That isn’t to say the Falcons shouldn’t select the best player available come draft time; if, in fact, it is a cornerback when Atlanta is on the clock, I’d expect Terry Fontenot to draft him. However, the Falcons would be wise to bring back a reliable veteran at a thin yet premium position.