Way-too-early Falcons contract extension candidates

NFL: OCT 15 Commanders at Falcons

In-season contract extensions aren’t atypical for the NFL, but they also aren’t frequent. The Falcons have more than a handful of candidates; some are set to hit free agency this offseason while others’ contracts aren’t set to expire until after 2024.

Jeff Okudah

Okudah was acquired from the Lions this offseason via trade, and there were high expectations for him to be A.J. Terrell’s running mate. Unfortunately, an injury kept him out for the first few games of the season.

He made his Falcons debut against his former team in Detroit but only played sparingly as he was eased into things, seeing 16% of the defense’s total snaps. Okudah slowly worked his way back and has now played 100% of the defensive snaps in back-to-back weeks.

On Sunday against the Commanders, Jeff Okudah looked like the 3rd overall pick. He was targeted five times and only allowed one reception by my count, recording a pair of pass breakups.

It may be premature to talk about a contract extension because of Okudah’s injury history, but it’s something to keep in mind as the Falcons look for a long-term running mate for our next candidate.

A.J. Terrell

Terrell is set to play on his fifth-year option in 2024, but it’s just a matter of time before the Falcons extend him. The former first-round pick is one of the few cornerstone players the new regime inherited. We saw how they treated that kind of talent when they made Chris Lindstrom the highest-paid guard in football this offseason. Regardless of the number, there’s no future scenario that exists without A.J. Terrell in a Falcons uniform.

Calais Campbell

This one is a bit different. There’s still a lot of season left, and Campbell is no spring chicken. This very well could be his final year in the league, but if it’s not, and he’s willing to sign another one-year deal, I would absolutely love to have Calais Campbell come back for his 17th NFL season.

Nathan Landman

Nate Landman isn’t one you thought you’d see, huh? He has completely taken me by surprise. Coming into the season, the Falcons parted ways with Mykal Walker, who was the only reserve linebacker with any significant experience. To say it was a bit shocking would be an understatement.

It left Atlanta with a core special teamer and an undrafted free agent as the immediate backups — Tae Davis and Landman, respectively. It left little to love behind Troy Andersen and Kaden Elliss. If one of the starters were to get injured, the Falcons wouldn’t be in a good spot.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Andersen missed a game due to a concussion, and Landman stepped in seamlessly. It was just one game, but it was encouraging. Then, Andersen was ruled out for the season, but there’s been no drop-off with Landman in a full-time role. You could maybe argue the undrafted free agent has been better than the second round pick in some facets.

I think it’s a no-brainer to extend this guy at some point.

Dee Alford

Alford came over from the Canadian Football League last year, signing a reserve/future deal with the Falcons in January 2022.

He made a couple of tackles in his NFL debut against the Saints in front of the home crowd, but his biggest contribution came in Week 4 against the Browns when he picked off Jacoby Brissett to seal the game for the good guys.

The CFL product came into training camp expected to compete with Mike Hughes and Clark Phillips for the starting nickel job, but I’m not sure it was ever a close competition. Alford has grabbed ahold of the starting gig and hasn’t looked back.

He’s been a critical piece of this stellar Falcons defense, manning the slot. He’s been reliable in coverage and when defending the run. Though he isn’t set to hit free agency until after 2024, you can never have enough cornerbacks in this league. Even extending him another year could prove wise, regardless of whether he loses his starting job to Clark Phillips. Depth is critical at the position.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire




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