Younghoe Koo and Ryan Allen aren’t the biggest names the Falcons will sign or re-sign this offseason, but they just became the first names to re-join the team. That in and of itself is telling.
The Falcons aren’t really in a position where special teams can be their top priority, but it’s evident that it is a top priority, given that the Falcons have signed three special teamers (Sam Irwin-Hill is the other) already in 2020, Thomas Dimitroff has openly talked up the specialists in this year’s class, and Atlanta endured a nightmarish run of injuries and bumbling on teams last year. It’s generally relatively affordable to get things right there, and the Falcons clearly intend to.
What do these two signings means, though? Glad you asked.
What the Koo re-signing means
This one’s relatively straightforward. After a very good/possibly lucky string of onside kicks, an effective season on kickoffs and converting field goals, and offering stability at a position the Falcons frantically turned over twice in 2019, Koo deserved a new deal and got one.
He’ll head into the summer as the favorite for the kicking job for the second straight year. Given that he won’t turn 26 until August, he has the chance to become the Falcons’ kicker for a long time if 2020 is as good as 2019. Atlanta’s already made it clear they won’t just hand the job to him, however, which could mean a late round draft pick, familiar veteran face (think Nick Rose), or an undrafted free agent. Again, though, Koo will have to faceplant to not have the gig.
What the Allen re-signing means
The Allen re-signing is more unexpected and certainly more seismic in terms of its implications.
First of all, Allen’s addition likely means Matt Bosher is headed elsewhere, which is a rough one considering what he’s meant to the Falcons since 2011. Not every punter is consistently good like he was all those years, and very few of them jaw at Rex Ryan or upend Kenjon Barner in the way he did. The series of injuries in 2019 appears to have put the team in the right frame of mind to move on, but we’ll wait for confirmation in March and April.
Right now, it appears the Falcons will head into the summer with a two man competition at punter, though you cannot and should not rule out Dimitroff using a late pick on another option. Irwin-Hill has a good leg but is unproven, while Allen doesn’t have the strongest leg but managed some very impressive directional punting that pinned teams deep in their own territory in 2019. If Koo is the kicker and handling kickoffs, Allen should be considered the favorite.
More to come on the special teams front, no doubt, but at least we know it’s a priority for Ben Kotwica and this Falcons squad.