For the last couple of seasons, I’ve figured Robert Alford was the man most likely to walk in free agency. The Falcons have Desmond Trufant to lock up in the near future, after all, and big contracts for Jake Matthews and a handful of others looming on the horizon. You can’t keep everybody, and after the team drafted Jalen Collins in the second round, it was seen by many (including me) as a signal that they would not be retaining Alford.
Big deal: Falcons signing CB Robert Alford to a four-year, $38 million extension that includes $21 million guaranteed, per league sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 8, 2016
This looks like big money—and it is, really—but the $21 million guaranteed over four years is not at all unreasonable. The guarantees do put him in the top 15 or so cornerback contracts, as does his overall contract, roughly in the neighborhood of players like Jimmy Smith of the Ravens, Sean Smith of the Raiders, and Sam Shields of the Packers.
Alford is a deeply divisive player for this fanbase, but the coaching staff has always placed a good deal of trust in him, and he’s held his own without Desmond Trufant on the field. He gambles at times and still commits more pass interference penalties than any of us like, but he’s good for a handful of big plays per year, he’s always around the ball, and he’s an aggressive cornerback with quality tackling skills and physicality.
Even if the extension is a bit too rich for your blood—and I anticipate it will be for many of you—it’s nice to see the Falcons willing to spend to keep around players they feel are part of their core. Alford’s going to be incredibly valuable for this team down the stretch without Trufant, and I’m hopeful he can carry his high level of play over to 2017 and beyond.
What this means for Desmond Trufant is not clear. At this point, I’d anticipate the team keeping both to have the kind of strong, functional cornerback corps Dan Quinn prefers, but that’s something we’ll have plenty of time to consider between now and when Trufant’s contract expires post-2017. For at least the coming year, the Falcons will keep the band together, and with Collins improving this promises to be one of the league’s most interesting secondaries.
Congratulations to Alford!