The Falcons find themselves in a good position, with a wealth of talent at the linebacker position. Deion Jones, Foyesade Oluokun, and Mykal Walker are stars or, in Walker’s case, soon will be. Debo is already one of the top five highest-paid linebackers in the NFL and is delivering. Foye just enjoyed a breakout season, which Jake talked about in an article back in October.
Granted, this is only one game, but Foye has kept up the intensity since recovering from the injury he suffered against Dallas. He has 40 combined tackles, 2 TFL, 3 FF, and an INT in 2020. In Week 6 against the Vikings, Oluokun graded out at 74.8, according to PFF — 10th among all linebackers. The signs were there in 2019.
Foye Oluokun finally has enough snaps to qualify and he’s currently the 16th(!) rated LB per PFF while De’Vondre Campbell is the 70th rated LB out of 87 qualifiers.
Oluokun needs to see more of the field and not just in garbage time.
— Matt Karoly (@mattkaroly) December 10, 2019
But with Debo’s cap hit so high, is it really worth investing that much into another inside linebacker? Oluokun might have outplayed Debo this season, but it is tough to justify allocating that much money into one position, especially when you have another young potential star entering his second season ready to fill in the gap.
Mykal Walker has made this a rather easy decision. The rookie fourth-round pick has essentially eliminated any possible ideas of bringing Foye back. His best game came against the Bears when he graded out as the second-best linebacker in coverage.
Rookie LB Mykal Walker yesterday:
-72 total snaps
-79.4 overall grade
-32 coverage snaps
-Elite 90.5 coverage grade (second among NFL LB's yesterday) pic.twitter.com/q1kwPRGarN
— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) September 28, 2020
Even if Foye outplayed Debo, there is too much invested in the former to even give Foye an offer. But what is not being talked about yet is trading, cutting, or otherwise getting rid of Debo and giving Foye a new contract. Walker is as effective in coverage as Debo, maybe just not as consistent, but that consistency will come with more experience.
This decision, like many others, all depends on the system that is brought in. If the new defensive coordinator calls for more inside linebackers, then I could see a conversation being had for keeping Foye. But if that system is more reliant on outside linebackers, I see Atlanta sadly letting him walk. You really do have to give Thomas Dimitroff credit for all three of these outstanding players. It is a good problem to have too much talent.