The Falcons came into the offseason with considerable uncertainty at cornerback, which I guess is also true of nearly every other position on the roster. A.J. Terrell blossomed into a true building block, but aside from rookie Darren Hall, the Falcons don’t have a lot of promising options to develop and nobody who figured to be able to step right in and be a capable starter opposite Terrell.
Enter Casey Hayward, the former Packer, Charger and most recently Raider, who just signed a two year deal with the Falcons.
The #Falcons are signing CB Casey Hayward to a 2-year, $11M contract, source said. Some key veteran help in the secondary.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 17, 2022
Hayward will be 33 this season, but hasn’t really slowed down, as he remains rock solid in coverage. He’s not going to get you bunches of interceptions the way he did early in his career, but he was 46th in the NFL out of 286 qualifying defenders in completion percentage allowed last year, broke up nine passes and earned a 76 overall grade from Pro Football Focus working for the Raiders. Going further back, he’s consistently been a durable, dependable starter. As Aaron Freeman notes, he has been particularly successful in zone coverage.
Casey Hayward has thrived in Gus Bradley’s zone-heavy scheme the past 5 seasons. Further evidence that the #Falcons aren’t as invested in getting better vs. man coverage as some of their previous rhetoric implies.— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) March 17, 2022
This will of course be viewed through the prism of the team’s ongoing efforts to get Deshaun Watson, and you can read it a couple of different ways. The first is that the team will need a replacement for A.J. Terrell because they intend to ship him off in a deal, and Hayward makes sense because he’s both good and shares an agent with Watson. The second is that the Falcons know that they’re out on Watson and are starting to spend to catch up in free agency, and Hayward is viewed as a high-end complement to Terrell. We’ll know soon enough which version is true.
Welcome Hayward to the Falcons, where he should be an asset for a defense that badly needs help, no matter what happens next.