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 special teams. Unchanged for nearly a decade, the group has undergone significant turnover in recent years. Kicker Younghoe Koo is the only returning starter, while long snapper and punter will be manned by new faces in 2022.
First up, Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo.
K Younghoe Koo
Age: 27 (28 during 2022 season)
Contract: $3M cap hit in 2022, under contract through 2026
Career Production: 44 games played | 90/100 (90%) FG success rate, 54 yard long, 87/91 (95.6%) XP success rate | 172 KO, 62.3 KO average, 48.8% touchback rate | 3 special teams tackles (2 solo)
2021 Production: 17 games played | 27/29 (93.1%) FG success rate, 54 yard long, 30/30 (100%) XP success rate | 56 KO, 62.6 KO average, 51.8% touchback rate | 3 special teams tackles (2 solo)
Previous Teams: UDFA signed by the Los Angeles Chargers (2017), Atlanta Legends (AAF, 2019), Atlanta Falcons (2019-present)
The Falcons have had their fair share of struggles finding long-term contributors at a number of positions—most notably on the defensive and offensive lines—but one position where the team has had consistently good luck is kicker. Since 2006, Atlanta has had Morten Andersen (2006-2007), Jason Elam (2008), Matt Bryant (2009-2019), and now Younghoe Koo (2019-present). The team has also had a number of kickers in training camp that went on to become quality starters elsewhere.
By now, I’m sure you’re familiar with the story of Younghoe Koo, but I’ll refresh your memory just in case. Koo was originally signed as a UDFA out of Georgia Southern by the Chargers following the 2017 NFL Draft. He beat out the incumbent starter in camp, but was cut after four games due to a shaky start. Koo then spent a year on the sidelines before signing with the Atlanta Legends of the AAF, where he would go a perfect 14-of-14 and earn a tryout with the Falcons partway through the 2019 season. He had a quality season, and the rest is history.
Koo finally earned a lucrative five-year extension this offseason, making him the NFL’s second-highest paid kicker in terms of APY at $4.85M and keeping him in Atlanta through 2026. He’s one of the NFL’s most accurate and consistent kickers, particularly in the 50-54 yard range. His skills as an onside kick specialist—where he’s arguably the best in the league—also add to his value. Koo’s one weakness is on kickoffs, where he’s been below average in the touchback department. It’s possible the Falcons will look to find a kickoff specialist, like the recently-signed Bradley Pinion, to take those duties off his plate.
Projection: Younghoe Koo is one of the NFL’s best young kickers, and he seems to be getting even more accurate over time. He’s also an excellent onside kick specialist, which gives the Falcons a considerable edge in those situations.