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Falcons sign rookie CB Avery Williams

The hyper-athletic rookie is expected to compete for the punt returner gig this summer.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons Rookie Minicamp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons have some cap space at last, and they’re signing their rookie class. Rookie cornerback Avery Williams seems to be the first one to sign, per his representation.

The cap-strapped Falcons have been in a holding pattern with rookies since the draft while they worked out a trade for Julio Jones, who headed to the Titans in a swap that brought Atlanta back a 2nd round pick and a conditional 4th round pick. The team may add a few free agents between now and the season, but the real reason to clear that space was to get guys like Williams inked to rookie deals, and D. Orlando Ledbetter at the AJC expects more to roll in soon.

Williams was an intriguing selection. He’s a strong tackler and very good athlete who will compete for a reserve role in year one, but it’s not outside of the realm of possibility that he could push for a starting job down the line with more experience. If all goes well, he’ll be at worst a useful reserve at cornerback for the next several years.

That’s not all he brings to the table, though. Williams was a hugely productive returner in college at Boise State, managing 6 punt return touchdowns and 2 kick return touchdowns over four seasons. In Atlanta, he’ll likely contribute as a gunner and is the early favorite for the team’s punt returner job, with a long-term eye on taking the kick returner gig once Cordarrelle Patterson heads elsewhere. It’s not really hyperbole to say that he should be one of the team’s best and most productive special teamers right away, given that he did it at an extremely high level in college.

We’re happy to see rookies finally signing, and very excited to see what Williams brings to the table in 2021. Give him a warm welcome.