Terry Fontenot will have to replace a decent amount of snaps on both sides of the ball as many of the Falcons assumed starters are set to become free agents next season. Dante Fowler, Hayden Hurst, Lee Smith, Isaiah Oliver, Cordarrelle Patterson, Russell Gage, Foyesade Oluokun, Erik Harris, Duron Harmon, Josh Andrews, Steven Means, Fabian Moreau, Jonathan Bullard, and Younghoe Koo will all contribute a considerable amount at their respective positions in 2021 but will all hit the free-agent maket next offseason.
Could any of these soon-to-be free agents sign a contract extension before the end of the season? Or will the first contract extension be someone else? One that comes to everyone’s mind is Grady Jarrett, who I believe should be the first for financial reasons. Getting him extended sooner rather than later could be a cost-effective decision:
Jarrett is rightfully expecting to be one of the highest-paid interior defenders in this league. I think it would be wise to get ahead of the negotiation curve, given how he could perform this year. If Terry Fontenot and the front office began the process with Jarrett’s agent, it could save them some money. He is a two-time Pro Bowler with a season-best 7.5 sacks in one of those years. If the former fifth-round pick were to earn any league honors and/or top his best sack numbers, his price-tag would get much more expensive.
Still, others like Jake Matthews, Deion Jones, and Matt Ryan could potentially sign the first substantial contract extension of the new regime. Matthews and Jones are more likely than Ryan, in my opinion, but the 2022 free-agent class has a few that have a chance to be the first lucrative contract extension.
If Fowler impresses this year, he could play himself into a contract extension before the season ends. He has stated that he wants to be in Atlanta, “… showing that I’m willing and that I want to be here for a good amount of time.” The new staff could be unsatisfied with his original contract and want him under a deal they negotiate instead. Foye Oluokun, Russell Gage, and Hayden Hurst are sure to be difficult decisions, but if the staff decides to bring them back, it’ll be on a new contract after the season.
Younghoe Koo is someone that I believe could sign a contract extension during the season that nobody is thinking about. Matthews, Jones, Ryan, and Jarrett are all at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but my bet might be on Koo. There is only one kicker on each team, and one as reliable as Koo is one you don’t let hit the open market.
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