While many Falcons fans expected Terry Fontenot to remain relatively dormant until the draft because of the club’s lack of cap space, Atlanta’s GM had a trick up his sleeve, acquiring Jeff Okudah from the Lions in exchange for a fifth-round pick.
The deal bolstered an already strong cornerback unit as the former third overall pick joins AJ Terrell, Casey Hayward, and Mike Hughes. I assume Okudah will have a chance to start opposite Terrell, but nothing will be given to him.
It’s a very low-risk, high-reward move from the Falcons.
Best case scenario: Okudah stays healthy, proves a change of scenery and coaching was the difference, and realizes his full potential. The Falcons found their long-term CB2, which only cost them a Day 3 draft pick.
Worst case scenario: Okudah deals with injuries, and the Falcons don’t get any production out of him, but it still only cost them that fifth-rounder.
Fontenot should be commended for this move, and even more so in light of some new information from PFF’s Brad Spielberger that Detroit paid a portion of Okudah’s salary to facilitate the deal.
Per a league source, to facilitate the trade of CB Jeff Okudah to the Atlanta Falcons, the Lions agreed to pay $1.5M of his 2023 salary
Falcons inherit a one-year, $3.682M deal for the former third overall pick, with a fifth-year option deadline of May 1st
— Brad Spielberger, Esq. (@PFF_Brad) April 12, 2023
So, instead of paying an injury-prone player that hasn’t even come close to reaching his potential over $5 million in 2023, the Falcons will only be on the hook for a fraction of that. It’s a great deal for the good guys.
The deal doesn’t come without strings though. The Falcons will have to decide whether or not to exercise Okudah’s fifth-year option by May 2, which will pay him about $11.5 million in 2024. To me, it’s a foregone conclusion the club will decline the option
Committing three times his 2023 salary to next season’s cap isn’t good business. It’s an unnecessary gamble with minimal upside. Even if the ideal situation works out, that fifth-year option price tag isn’t some bargain for Jeff Okudah like it is for A.J. Terrell.
The move was already a success, and this tidbit about Okudah’s contract makes it even sweeter; I expect Terry Fontenot to continue to do the right thing, declining his fifth-year option.
Photographer: Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire
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