Our coverage of the Falcons free agents continues with their former sixth round pick: Foye Oluokun. We previously talked about Younghoe Koo and Russell Gage, and now it’s time to contemplate what the team needs to do about their leading tackler from the 2021 season.
Will the Falcons re-sign Oluokun? Should they? Let’s take a closer look.
1 forced fumble
The case for signing Oluokun
It says a lot about Foye that defensive coordinator Dean Pees moved Foye to the Mike this year instead of Deion Jones, especially about how much Pees trusted him. After a bumpy start, Foye settled in and finished the year with an incredible 192 tackles - the 7th most ever in a single season. He’s a leader on the defense and has improved every year he’s been in the league, and certainly has the requisite physicality and leadership to play a prominent role in this or another defense.
There’s a good chance we still haven’t seen his best football yet. The Falcons defense needs a lot of help and letting one of their best, young defenders walk is not a great way to improve the unit in 2022.
The case against signing Oluokun
The case against Foye has little to do with his performance and everything to do with available money. We’ve already identified some important free agents in Younghoe Koo and Russell Gage, and Atlanta may not have enough in the coffers to keep everyone. On top of it all, the team is looking at a nearly $20 million dollar cap hit for fellow linebacker Deion Jones, and we have no idea if they intend to do anything to mitigate that hit.
Having two big contracts on the books for linebackers doesn’t seem sustainable, especially with a promising young player in Mykal Walker waiting in the wings and a draft class with some interesting rookies the Falcons may want to add.
The verdict: Re-sign Foye Oluokun
This one seems straightforward, cap questions aside.
The team needs to consider moving on from Deion Jones, whose performance has dipped the last two years. Mykal Walker is a better replacement for Jones than for Oluokun, in my opinion. If the Falcons can find a willing trade partner for Jones, the money should be there to lock up Oluokun for the next several years. Even if they don’t make a move with Jones, Oluokun feels like he’ll be one of the big priorities of the offseason.
It’s clear the coaching staff loves what he offers in this defense. Let’s hope the team tries to keep one of the guys they see as a significant piece for now and the future.