After yet another Kyle Shanahan-related Super Bowl collapse, the off-season (the real one, not the one we’ve had to endure since December because the Falcons aren’t good at football) has finally arrived. Huzzah! So today we’re going to continue our post-2019 roster review by highlighting 3 positions worth keeping an eye on: long snapper, kicker, and punter.
Starter: Josh Harris
Contract: Signed through 2021 season
2019 stats: He didn’t mess up
You don’t hear Josh Harris’ name much, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a really good thing. Harris signed with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2012, making him the second-most tenured player on the roster. For what it’s worth, Harris is currently signed through the end of the 2021 season, so he isn’t going anywhere for another couple of years. He’s held down the long snapper position for the Falcons for a long time, but he’s only 30 years old, and there’s no reason to think the Falcons won’t try to keep him around after his current deal expires. I wish I could throw a bunch of advanced long snapper statistics at you to hammer home my point,
but those don’t exist the absence of any issues related to his performance on the field is all you really need to know.
Starter: Younghoe Koo
Contract: Exclusive rights free agent
2019 stats: 23/26 field goals converted, 15/15 point after attempts converted, 1/1 on field goal attempts over 50 yards (8 games)
It’s been an interesting year for the Falcons at kicker. This time last year, the Falcons were ready and raring to move on from Matt Bryant. A failed Giorgio Tavecchio experiment later, the Falcons walked back that decision and brought Bryant back, only to give him an incredibly short leash and cut him after he showed a little regression. If the Falcons hadn’t let him walk in the first place, Bryant would’ve had the opportunity to work out at the team facility throughout the off-season. And it’s anyone’s guess whether he still would’ve struggled out the gate. In any case, their mishandling of his departure was downright criminal in its execution.
Younghoe Koo converted 23 of his 26 field goal attempts and 15 of 16 of his point after attempts after signing with the Falcons in late October. That’s a pretty solid conversion rate, but if we’re splitting hairs, the fact that he only attempted 1 kick over 50 yards in 8 games might give you pause. Does that mean the coaching staff knows he has issues converting from 50+ yards? Or is that just how his season played out? It’s probably too speculative to take a position, but it’s undoubtedly something to keep an eye on in 2020.
Starter at the end of the season: Ryan Allen
Contract: Unrestricted free agent
2019 stats: 41.9 yards/punt (8 games)
Punter is another position where the Falcons are trying to find their footing. They’ve been on the Matt Bosher train for years now but it looks like they won’t be for much longer. They signed Ryan Allen in early November and it’s worth noting that he was the 5th punter to suit up for the Falcons in 2019. Allen is a respected veteran that spent the first 6 years of his career with the Patriots, but he’s averaged 45.1 yards/punt over his career, so it’s fair to wonder whether he too is on the decline.
As for Bosher, he only played in 3 games for the Falcons in 2019, spending most on the year on injured reserve. He’s not the punter he once was, but at the right price, it may make sense to bring him back in 2020. At this moment he’s a unrestricted free agent coming off an injury-marred campaign, so it may be a matter of letting his market develop and seeing if the Falcons can pitch something he’d be willing to take.
Outlook: A decidedly mixed bag
The Falcons are set at long snapper for the foreseeable future, and Koo showcased a good deal of potential during the second half of the season. The punter situation is completely up in the air at this point. It’s likely the Falcons opt to move from Bosher and Allen didn’t really blow my socks off over the 8 games he played in.
Your thoughts, Falcoholics?