Replacing a legendary player like Matt Bryant is hard. Just ask Giorgio Tavecchio.
In a year where the Falcons leadership repeatedly goofed up the kicking situation, they finally found some stability and finished out the year with Younghoe Koo. For the 8 games he played in 2019, he punched in 23 of 26 field goals.
With that production in mind, should Atlanta look to lock this guy up for the long-term? Should they bring in competition for 2020? Let’s look at some of the options for the forthcoming season.
His value and contract
Koo was a solid kicker in the back half of 2019. He punched in 88.5% of his field goals and had an insane run of 5 straight onside kicks recovered (with a few called back for penalties). Yet, he had only one field goal of 50 or more yards (50 yarder against the Panthers that doinked in) and it often seemed that the team would elect to punt rather than trying long field goals. That would lead one to believe that the team thinks Koo is either inaccurate from long distances and/or he doesn’t have the leg to get it done.
Right now, Koo is a restricted free agent, so the Falcons can bring him back in 2020 for pretty cheap (under 600k). At only 25 years old, Koo has plenty of life left in his career, and no matter what he’ll probably be able to land a job this summer.
Despite his skill (or insane luck) at onside kicks, there is some concern about his ability to consistently hit field goals from long range. He proved pretty reliable inside of 40 yards, but games are often decided by long field goals. That kind of question mark can’t be overlooked.
Realistically, his contract is going to be so cheap in 2020 that it makes no sense to not extend the tender. It’s not guaranteed and you can easily move on during the season - if it comes to that.
However, the team should learn from the debacle of the 2019 season when they handed the job over to Giorgio Tavecchio with no competition - which included walking away from Matt Bryant before camp even started. Unless you have a sure thing lined up at kicker, there’s absolutely zero reason to hand the job to one guy. The Falcons should strongly consider bringing in competition to see if Koo can earn it outright. Someone like Nick Rose - who is also just 25 years old - could be brought in during camp, as he’s already familiar with the Falcons from spending a summer with them.
What are your thoughts on Younghoe Koo? Should the team just hand him the job or is a little competition a good thing?