The Falcons secondary was a big issue in the first half of 2019. The mixture of struggling players (Damontae Kazee, Isaiah Oliver) and injuries (Keanu Neal) created a toxic potion of blown coverages and horrifying play. While it was far from his best year in Atlanta, Desmond Trufant was one of the few guys who still played fairly well for most of the season until injuries cut it short.
With Tru turning 29 this year, he may be at the peak of his performance curve. With Kendall Sheffield looking decent (in spots) during 2019, fans are now wondering if it’s time to move on from the former first round pick. Let’s take a look.
Trufant has been an interesting player since he entered the league in 2013. He was arguably one of the best rookies of that draft class and was easily the best corner on the team. He followed that up with a strong 2014 campaign. While his 2015 and 2016 seasons weren’t as good, he was still a solid corner. That consistently good (and sometimes great) level of play got him a new deal in 2017 for 5 years and a total of just under 69 million.
The team decided to move on from Robert Alford last year, which left Trufant as the only veteran corner on the team besides Blidi Wreh-Wilson. Despite that, he had a good 2019, even if his haters are consistently vocal about cutting him. While he doesn’t have an extensive injury history, he did miss several games in 2019. When he’s healthy, though, Trufant has the experience and physical traits to be a true CB1 in this league.
The money and what to do
For 2020, Trufant is slated to count a little over 15 million towards the cap, which trails only Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Jake Matthews. Cutting him will leave a monstrous 10.2 million dead money hit on the books, but actually free up just under 5 million in cap space.
As for what to do? The team does have a very tight salary cap, so cutting Trufant does make some sense. However, you only do this if your intention is to use some combination of Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield and Damontae Kazee as your starting duo at corner. I’m not sure that any of those guys are a convincing CB1.
One thing is for sure: Cutting Trufant doesn’t make sense if you’re going to go to free agency to fill the new void. The money you save won’t be enough to get a decent starter for the position.
The most likely scenario is that the team will ride with Trufant for at least one more year. Kendall Sheffield showed some potential in 2019, but potential is a far cry from being ready to be a starter and the true number one corner. Another year with Tru on the field will give the front office and the coaches time to bring along the younger guys. Plus, Trufant’s contract is far more amenable to a cut in 2021 than to do it now.
What do you think the team should do with Trufant in 2020?