UPDATE: We received some additional clarity on Bethel’s contract from D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC.
The full deal is one-year, $1.75M, with $850K in base salary, a $400K signing bonus, and a $500K roster bonus (applied as a per-game active bonus of $31,250). For those that don’t have a MyAJC subscription, you can see the contract breakdown on Spotrac. The original article, with some revisions, is below.
We got the news late last week that the Falcons had officially signed CB Justin Bethel, previously of the Arizona Cardinals. Outside of the news itself, however, the terms of the deal and Bethel’s expected role in Atlanta were unclear. The 27 year-old defensive back is known mostly for his special teams work and penchant for turning interceptions into TDs with his speed and uncanny ability to navigate traffic.
Today, we got a bit more clarity on Bethel’s contract details and his expected role in the Falcons’ defense. Here’s the tweet, per ESPN’s Vaughn McClure:
New Falcons CB Justin Bethel's base salary in his one-year deal is $850,000. The three-time Pro Bowl special-teamer previously led the Cardinals in special teams tackles for five consecutive seasons. Falcons coach Dan Quinn said expects Bethel to be a... https://t.co/CDuQ24B8lr— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 28, 2018
Bethel signed a 1-year deal worth approximately $1.75K—which is less than the $2.5M he played for in 2017 and significantly less than the $5M per year he signed for in 2015. The relatively low price also means that the Falcons don’t necessarily need Bethel to contribute on defense, although Dan Quinn says in the above tweet that he’ll have Bethel compete for a depth role at CB. More than likely, Bethel will be the 5th CB on the roster who won’t see the field on defense very often.
The three-time Pro Bowler as a designated special teamer will serve as the Falcons primary gunner on special teams. He should provide a substantial upgrade there, as Atlanta’s coverage unit struggled throughout the majority of 2017. Adding Bethel to some of the Falcons other options—like Damontae Kazee, who started to come on during last year’s playoffs—should elevate that unit out of the doldrums of the NFL and into average-to-good territory.
It’ll be interesting to see if Bethel’s signing affects the Falcons’ draft plans. There has been some speculation among fans that Atlanta may be interested in adding a CB to compete with Brian Poole for the nickel role, or at least to compete with the depth on the bottom of the roster. With Bethel in the room, the Falcons already have 6 CBs on the depth chart (not counting Kazee, who played mostly safety in 2017). A mid-round draft pick could certainly supplant Leon McFadden or Blidi Wreh-Wilson, but the Falcons depth at CB actually looks pretty solid.
What do you think about the Bethel signing? Are you happy with the terms of the contract? What type of role do you envision for Bethel in 2018?