It’s the offseason, but the Falcons are making plenty of moves this week. They’ve announced another reserve/future contract after signing 17 players to those contracts earlier this week.
They’ve also made a housekeeping move, activating a pair of players off the reserve/COVID-19 list despite those players...well, you know, not having any games to play right now.
We have signed Corey Ballentine to a reserve/future contract and have activated Jonathan Bullard and Jason Spriggs from the reserve/COVID-19 list.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 12, 2022
Ballentine has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Jets, Giants and Lions, including four games in Detroit this year. He started four games at cornerback in 2019 and 2020, with Pro Football Reference crediting him with 33 receptions, 469 yards and five touchdowns allowed over 28 games. His largest role has come on special teams, where he contributes in coverage and and has logged 35 kick returns for an average of 24.4 yards per return. A very good athlete and someone who was viewed as at least a promising reserve cornerback when the Giants took him in the sixth round, Ballentine still has more than enough promise to make him interesting to a team like the Falcons, who need cornerback depth and could always use more special teams help.
Ballentine, if he sticks, will be competing for a deep reserve role at cornerback and for the kick returner job, and his primary competition figures to be Avery Williams. Williams had a couple of up-and-down appearances as a corner but was, in my humble opinion, pretty good as both a kick returner and punt returner. Ballentine will likely have to have a pretty spectacular offseason to unseat him for any kind of role, but adding competition is always a good decision for Atlanta and Ballentine’s
Give him a warm welcome, and we’ll see how he fares this spring and summer.
The other news is that a pair of impending free agents have been activated off the reserve/COVID-19 list. Spriggs served as the team’s swing tackle throughout 2021 and may well return to that role in 2022, while Bullard was a useful piece of the defensive line rotation when healthy. With the Falcons out of the playoffs, obviously, this is more of a procedural move than anything else, and we’ll see if either player returns to Atlanta this coming season.