The Falcons had a short list of priority free agents to re-sign, and Foye Oluokun was at or near the top of it. The fifth-year linebacker had gone from sixth-round pick to full-time starter in Atlanta and was fresh off an impressive season that saw him force multiple turnovers and lead the league in tackles.
We knew he’d be cashing in on a big deal given all of that, and Oluokun has. It’s just unfortunately not with the Falcons, as Ian Rapoport reports that the Jaguars have signed him to a three year, $45 million deal.
The #Jaguars are in agreement on a long-term deal with standout LB Foye Oluokun, per @ajv. A former 6th rounder from Yale(!) hits it big. He gets 3 years, $45M with upside to $46.5M. There is $28M fully guaranteed at signing.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2022
That’s a huge payday for Oluokun and I’m happy for him on that front, but bummed he won’t be back in Atlanta. He turned in a pair of quality seasons as a starter in 2020 and 2021 and clearly is viewed as a rising player around the league, but now the team has a fresh hole in the middle of their defense just a year after they gave Oluokun the green dot on his helmet and had him calling plays for the defense.
Oluokun ends his Falcons career with 462 combined tackles, 5 interceptions, 7 forced fumbles and 5 sacks. He was one of the team’s great draft success stories of recent years, having gone from an athletic and smart sixth round upside pick out of Yale to a useful part-time starter to a valuable full-time starter in the span of four seasons. It’s fair to argue we haven’t seen his best football yet, and certainly Jacksonville is paying him like they expect him to be a core part of their rebuilding defense. Given his well-rounded game and penchant for causing turnovers, he’ll likely deliver.
This would seem to decrease the chances that the Falcons will move on from Deion Jones, who is coming off a rough 2021, and likely gives Mykal Walker the opportunity to step in as a starter next to Jones after he had some big plays in limited playing time last year. The Falcons will be counting on a rebound from Jones if they stick with him and will hope Walker, like Oluokun, can step in after a couple of years of seasoning and deliver with a full-time role. The team also has some cash and plenty of draft picks to add to the position group, and I’d expect them to even if Jones and Walker will be the starters.
We wish Oluokun well in Jacksonville, and now we’ll see what the team’s plan is to replace him.