Atlanta’s injury issues at cornerback are officially alarming. A.J. Terrell is “week-to-week,” which likely means he’ll miss the game against the Panthers, and Casey Hayward hit injured reserve after the 49ers game. Dee Alford is day-to-day, Mike Ford left Sunday’s game and we haven’t gotten an update on his status yet, and Isaiah Oliver has only been back a couple of games after a long recovery from a very serious injury. Darren Hall is the only fully healthy corner on the Falcons’ roster today.
In light of that, the Falcons are going to have to do something at cornerback, which makes looking at available free agent corners a worthwhile exercise. Let me preface this by saying that my expectation is that Alford will be back this week and the team will, at least for their Week 8 matchup against the Panthers, only add back-of-the-roster options to the practice squad or actual roster and summon someone like Cornell Armstrong from the practice squad again. With a very tough matchup against the Chargers looming after this, though, Atlanta may make a little bit of a bigger move with their remaining cap space if Terrell isn’t on track to return.
For now, proceed with the assumption that the Falcons will add at least one player at the position and will elevate one of Armstrong, Matt Hankins, or Dylan Mabin off the practice squad.
Let’s look at who’s out there.
If Atlanta’s looking for a short-term starter, Jenkins will likely be on their list. Terry Fontenot was in the New Orleans front office when they signed Jenkins back in 2020, and while he’s getting up there in age for a corner, he just started 13 games a year ago for Tennessee. An experienced player who held up reasonably well in coverage last season despite being frequently targeted, Jenkins would give the team a seasoned veteran in case a young cornerback corps falters, as well as a potential starting option if Terrell misses a couple of weeks.
A part-time starter in recent years, Bouye is a similarly experienced corner who was legitimately pretty good a few short years ago, and aside from missed tackles a solid player each of the past couple of seasons. Bouye’s also interesting because he’s allowed just five touchdowns over the past four seasons in 41 starts and well over 2,000 snaps, and lord knows the Falcons could use somebody who is effective at keeping receivers out of the end zone. Like Jenkins, he’d be a savvy enough signing if the Falcons feel they need a short term starter.
A 17 game starter over the past three seasons and still just 25 years old, Austin has an interesting blend of size, athleticism, and ball skills. His problem to this point in his career has been a wince-inducing number of missed tackles, which would not be overly welcome in Atlanta’s secondary, but he’s an interesting player with some upside if the Falcons want to continue to inject youth into this cornerback group.
There are a few interesting lines with Canady. First, he’s a solid special teamer, which would make him a fit for a team that prizes that, as well as one that is going to need to draw down Dean Marlowe and Mike Ford’s special teams snaps because both will be needed more on defense. Second, he has ties to Dean Pees, having played (albeit sparingly) for Pees back in 2016 and 2017 when the grizzled defensive coordinator was in Baltimore. Third, Canady has been solid in his limited opportunities on defense throughout his career, making him a fine emergency option at the position. I would not be stunned to see him land in Atlanta.
A large corner at 6’3”, 200 pounds, King is pretty young and might have upside he simply didn’t show in Green Bay. The best reason to avoid him would be, well, everything else, given that King had one of the NFL’s highest missed tackles rates for a corner until last season and is not known for being stellar in coverage. If the Falcons want to take a closer look at a player with the tools and the youth (27) to maybe become something more, King’s more of a gamble than a proven addition.
DeMarkus Acy or Cortez Davis
The Falcons worked out Acy, a physical cornerback who has bounced around a bit since arriving in the league as an undrafted free agent back in 2020, back in July. If there was a level of interest then, perhaps there will be again in a player who has college experience at safety as well.
Ditto Davis, who worked out at the same time and was a prolific pass deflector and aggressive ballhawk at Hawaii.
Desmond Trufant or Robert Alford
Honestly, I just added them for nostalgia’s sake.
Tell me what options you’d prefer that I missed, and let us know what you think the Falcons will do over the next couple of weeks with their cornerback group so depleted by injuries.