Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is cornerback. Perhaps the strongest overall position on the roster, the Falcons return young star A.J. Terrell, slot starter Isaiah Oliver, and 2021 fourth-rounder Darren Hall alongside a number of veteran and UDFA additions.
Next up, veteran free agent addition Casey Hayward.
CB Casey Hayward
Age: 32 (33 during 2022 season)
Contract: $4M cap hit in 2022, under contract through 2023
Career Production: 146 games played, 112 games started | 431 total tackles, 326 solo, 13.0 TFL, 2 FF | 109 PD, 24 INT
2021 Production: 17 games played, 17 games started | 46 total tackles, 39 solo, 3.0 TFL, 9.8% MTR | 9 PD, 1 INT, 57.1% completion rate allowed, 91.9 passer rating allowed | 76.0 overall PFF grade
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 2nd Round (62nd overall) by the Green Bay Packers (2012-2015), San Diego Chargers (2016), Los Angeles Chargers (2017-2020), Las Vegas Raiders (2021), Atlanta Falcons (2022)
With the emergence of A.J. Terrell, the Falcons established the first piece in a potentially elite secondary. 2021’s supporting cast of Fabian Moreau—who was an average CB2 at best—and the revolving door of slot corners after Isaiah Oliver’s injury were simply not good enough to capitalize on Terrell’s elite play. In 2022, the Falcons made strengthening the secondary a priority, and it began with the signing of veteran starter Casey Hayward.
Hayward, who will be 33 when the season starts, has already enjoyed a long and storied NFL career. The two-time Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro has collected many accolades in his nearly 150 games played, winning with his combination of high-end lateral quickness, elite instincts, and technical prowess at the position. Hayward is one of the smartest defensive backs playing in the league right now, and it shows up on just about every play.
An elite zone coverage corner who also brings physicality and experience in man, Hayward has filled a number of roles throughout his career—including some play in the slot. He’s generally been the CB1 wherever he’s played, and even remarked upon his lack of help in previous stops in his introductory Falcons press conference. In Atlanta, he’ll pair with Terrell—who could be the best running mate he’s had in his career—and get a chance to thrive as a CB2.
Projection: Casey Hayward brings consistent high-level play and a ton of veteran experience to Atlanta’s secondary. He’ll man the CB2 position across from A.J. Terrell, giving the Falcons the best 1-2 duo they’ve had in years. His leadership will also be an invaluable contribution to the young, developing secondary.