Desmond Trufant

Falcons, Desmond Trufant Nearing Extension

The Falcons are getting close to retaining one of the top free agents. D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the team is finalizing a “lucrative contract extension” with cornerback Desmond Trufant.

Desmond TrufantIt was reported earlier this week that talks were beginning to heat up, as the Falcons were prioritizing re-signing the Pro Bowler. Ledbetter says the deal will likely be worth between $12MM and $14MM a year, and it will just miss the five-year, $75MM deal that Josh Norman received from the Redskins last offseason.

The former first-round pick has started every game he’s played in since entering the league in 2013. Trufant earned a Pro Bowl birth in 2015 after finishing the campaign with 42 tackles, one sack, seven passes defended, and one interception.

A torn pectoral muscle limited the defensive back to only nine games this past season, but the 26-year-old still managed to collect 31 tackles, two sacks, and two forced fumbles. Trufant ultimately ranked as the 32nd-best corner in the NFL out of 119 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.

Ledbetter notes that the organization is also trying to re-sign safety Kemal Ishmael, tight end Levine Toilolo and fullback Patrick DiMarco.

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Falcons, Desmond Trufant Moving Towards Deal

Negotiations between the Falcons and top cornerback Desmond Trufant are “heating up,” according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff said last week that locking up Trufant was going to be the club’s next major move, and it appears as if he is making good on his word.

Desmond Trufant

Trufant, the 22nd-overall pick of the 2013 draft, quickly established himself as the Falcons’ best cover corner and was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2015. He picked up right where he left off in 2016, but he suffered a torn pectoral in Week 9 and missed the rest of the season, which was a major blow to a pass defense that struggled even with Trufant in the lineup. At the time of the injury, Trufant ranked as the 32nd-best corner in the NFL out of 119 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, and he had picked up an interception and two sacks. For his career, he has seven interceptions and three sacks.

He had also been highly durable before the injury, having started every game from Week 1 of his rookie season to Week 9 of 2016 (a total of 57 contests). He is already under contract for 2017, as the Falcons picked up his fifth-year option, but the team obviously wants to keep him in Atlanta for the foreseeable future.

Of course, Trufant will not come cheap. The market for top cornerbacks seems to increase dramatically with each passing year, and Trufant can use recent deals for Darius Slay (five years, $51.33MM) and Janoris Jenkins (five years, $62.5MM) as benchmarks.

Per Ledbetter, Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn met with Trufant’s agents until midnight last night. The club is also trying to resign safety Kemal Ishmael, tight end Levine Toilolo, and fullback Patrick DiMarco.

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Falcons GM Discusses Trufant, Free Agency, Draft

The Falcons had a brilliant run during the regular season and playoffs, but the organization now has to switch focus to free agency and the draft. Fortunately, considering their lack of impending free agents, there shouldn’t be too many shakeups on the Falcons roster.

The team does have to work out a contract for Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant, and the team may be seeking some depth on the defensive line depending on what happens with veterans Jonathan Babineaux and Dwight Freeney. Of course, the Falcons are heading into the offseason with nearly $30MM in cap space, so they shouldn’t have any issues signing Trufant and depth pieces.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff recently sat down with D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to discuss the current state of the Falcons roster, his organization’s plans for the offseason, and the status of Trufant and the defensive line. The entire article is worth a read, but we’ve compiled some of the notable quotes below…

Thomas DimitroffOn the talent of his current roster:

“We are really encouraged where we are from a roster standpoint. We have a lot of youth here. We have a lot of talented players. We are excited about the trajectory here. Of course, it’s very positive.”

“I really believe that we don’t have any major holes in this roster. We are continuing to build the depth of this roster. We are continuing to get better and better along those lines. I don’t look at any (one) area on the field (as deficit).”

On the front office’s game plan for the offseason:

“Every year, we’ve been pretty aggressive in free agency, and we think this year our focus is going to be on signing a number of players on our team who are up. That’s going to be the main focus.”

On the depth of this year’s draft class:

“It’s a good year for defense. Most of the defensive positions are quite strong. That plays well here with a young defense that’s continuing to be built. That’s a good thing. Offensively, there is always a ton of receivers, but I’m not sure that’s the area that we’re going to be focusing on that much. … The depth in the lower rounds, I think is as good as well.”

On the impending free agency of Desmond Trufant, who has spent his entire four-year career with Atlanta:

“He’s a very valuable asset to this team. We are going to get him signed up, and we’re going to get him healthy and signed up for years to come.”

On the status of his pass rushers, and how he’d plan on filling any potential departures:

“I think we need to continue to get up and affect the passer, whether that’s with the young guys who’ll continue to get better and better. I was really encouraged with how Ra’Shede Hageman came along on in the middle of the season. He’s really responding to Dan Quinn’s sort of tutoring. Dan’s presence like that has been great for that defensive line.”

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Extra Points: Trufant, Falcons, Packers, Bucs

Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant may have missed the final half of the regular season and his team’s entire playoff run, but the 26-year-old is still in line to get a hefty payday. Speaking to ESPN.com’s Vaughn McClure, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the organization will look to extend the 2013 first-rounder this offseason.

“He’s a top-tier corner, no question about it,” Dimitroff said. “We believe that he’s going to do some excellent things for us into the future.”

Trufant is signed through 2017 after the Falcons picked up his fifth-year option (worth an estimated $8MM). The four-year veteran was plenty productive through his team’s first nine games, compiling 31 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception. While several defensive backs, including former second-rounder Jalen Collins, stepped up in Trufant’s absense, Dimitroff was still adamant that the cornerbacks were led by the former Pro Bowler.

“Trufant’s value has not dropped at all,” Dimitroff said. “We are really excited about having Trufant back and [Robert] Alford back and Jalen Collins back and Brian Poole back. And then the other guys who have contributed to us this year in [C.J.] Goodwin and Deji Olatoye. Those guys are a real cool and encouraging group of secondary [players], and the guy who is at the front of that is Trufant.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes as we wrap up this Tuesday evening…

  • Trufant isn’t the only player who the Falcons are looking to extend. McClure writes that the organization is also trying to lock up quarterback Matt Ryan and running back Devonta Freeman“Our focus in free agency is to, again, focus on the guys on our team to get them done first,” Dimitroff said. “It’s probably this year more than any, it’s where our focus is.”
  • The Falcons have received “multiple requests” from other teams to interview their assistant coaches, tweets Alex Marvez of The Sporting News. The reporter notes that some coaches will be allowed to talk to opposing teams while others will not.
  • By releasing running back James Starks earlier today, the Packers created more than $2.8MM in salary cap space, tweets former NFL agent Joel Corry. The transaction left a reasonable $750K of dead money on the team’s cap.
  • The Buccaneers worked out long snapper Kameron Canaday today, reports Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). The former Portland State product won the Cardinals long snapper gig heading into the regular season, but he was released following a botched snap in Week 3. The Buccaneers did add a long snapper earlier today in Dax Dellenbach, but that shouldn’t prevent the team from adding another player for competition.

Desmond Trufant Done For Season

Falcons cornerback Desmond Trufant will require surgery for a torn pectoral and will miss the rest of the season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. On Tuesday, Atlanta made it all official, announcing that Trufant is headed to IR. In related moves, the Falcons have signed center Trevor Robinson and cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson to the active roster. Punter Matt Wile has been waived.

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Trufant sustained the injury during Atlanta’s Week 9 matchup against the Buccaneers and consequently missed the team’s Week 10 contest against the Eagles. The Falcons then had their bye in Week 11, and Trufant practiced on a limited basis this week in the hopes of suiting up against the Cardinals today.

Needless to say, this is a major blow for the Falcons, as Trufant is the club’s best cover corner. He ranks as the 32nd-best corner in the NFL out of 119 qualified players, according to Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics (subscription required), which is a big deal for a team that ranks among the bottom third of the league in pass defense (per Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric). He also notched an interception and two sacks this season.

The 6-4 Falcons sit atop the NFC South, just one game ahead of Tampa Bay. Luckily for Atlanta, the remainder of the team’s schedule is not littered with opponents that boast high-flying passing offenses, with the Week 17 matchup against the Saints looking like the only exception.

Trufant, the Falcons’ first-round draft pick in 2013, is scheduled to make $8MM in his fifth-year option season next year. Players like Brian Poole and C.J. Goodwin will need to step up in his absence.

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Falcons’ Trufant Pushing For Extension

Cornerback Desmond Trufant wants to hammer out an extension with the Falcons, sources close to the situation tell Jason Cole of Bleacher Report (video link). However, the Falcons are not in any rush to extend the 2013 first-round pick. "<strong

[RELATED: Roddy White, Devin Hester Plan To Play In 2016]

The Falcons surely want to keep Trufant for the long haul, but they also want to maintain consistency with regards to how they deal with their high-level players. When Julio Jones and Matt Ryan were coming to the end of their respective contracts, the team waited until they were one year out with both players to get down to brass tacks. With Trufant, there is some talk between the two sides about what a new deal might look like, but Atlanta has no plans of extending Trufant right now. Next offseason, however, we can expect to see more momentum. Trufant, predictably, is looking to become one of the highest-paid players on the Falcons and in the NFL overall.

The 25-year-old cornerback (26 in September), who hasn’t missed a game (or a start) in his three seasons in Atlanta, earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2015. Trufant recorded 42 tackles, an interception, a sack, and a pair of fumble recoveries last season, and placed 13th out of 111 qualified cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus’ grades. PFF also ranked Trufant as a top-five defender against the run, among corners.

Trufant’s 2017 option salary will be worth $8.026MM, though he and the Falcons could reach a long-term agreement at any time before or during the ’17 season.

So far today, we have had an influx of Falcons news. Atlanta released veteran return man Devin Hester and the team is reportedly considering veterans Dwight Freeney and O’Brien Schofield. Hester and former Falcons star Roddy White both plan continuing their playing careers.

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Falcons Pick Up Fifth-Year Option On Desmond Trufant

The Falcons have become the latest team to formally exercise their fifth-year option on a 2013 first-round pick. The team announced today (via Twitter) that it has exercised cornerback Desmond Trufant‘s option for 2017. Trufant had indicated earlier this week that he wasn’t thinking much about his option, but that he hopes to remain in Atlanta for the long term.Desmond Trufant

“That’s just for my agent to handle,” Trufant told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. “I’m here. I plan on being here a long time. And I’m just here working, bonding with the team. But I know, that’s my agent. They’re going to handle all that. But I’m just here ready to work.”

[RELATED: 2017 Fifth-Year Option Decision Tracker]

The Falcons’ decision to exercise Trufant’s 2017 option comes as no surprise. The 25-year-old cornerback, who hasn’t missed a game (or a start) in his three seasons in Atlanta, earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2015.

Trufant recorded 42 tackles, an interception, a sack, and a pair of fumble recoveries last season, and placed 13th out of 111 qualified cornerbacks according to Pro Football Focus’ grades. PFF also ranked Trufant as a top-five defender against the run, among corners.

Trufant’s 2017 option salary will be worth $8.026MM, though he and the Falcons could reach a long-term agreement at any time before or during the ’17 season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Fitzgerald, Cards, Falcons, Bears

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is entering the final year of his contract with the team, but he says he hasn’t given much thought to his future beyond 2016, as Adam Green of ArizonaSports.com details.

“When I committed to doing two more years, I’m focused on two, and after the season — hopefully it’s in February — I’ll sit down with my family and think about it, what I want to do moving forward,” said the longtime Cardinals wideout during an appearance on Arizona Sports 98.7FM. “But it’s been a great run and I really enjoy being in this community and playing for this organization.”

Although it seems unlikely that Fitzgerald would contemplate retirement in the near future if he keeps performing at the level that he did in 2015, he suggested that his future will likely be linked to the Cardinals’ quarterback situation.

A lot of is tied to (Cardinals quarterback) Carson (Palmer),” Fitzgerald said. “Carson’s playing at a high level. I don’t want to go through any other quarterback situations. It’s been great to have the stability that we have now with the big fella, he’s been playing light’s out.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • The Falcons have yet to officially exercise the fifth-year option for cornerback Desmond Trufant, but that’s essentially a formality, writes Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com. The Pro Bowl corner intends to remain in Atlanta “for a long time,” as he tells McClure. Trufant is one of more than 20 players whose teams haven’t yet announced decisions on their options for 2017, as our tracker shows.
  • The Cardinals, the Bears, and Washington were among the teams to host Western Kentucky QB Brandon Doughty for pre-draft visits, according to Rand Getlin of the NFL Network (via Twitter). Doughty also participated in the Dolphins’ local workout day earlier this month.
  • After meeting with Miami earlier this week, Texas Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant visited the Cardinals on Tuesday and is making his final visit today to Chicago to meet with the Bears, tweets Rand Getlin.
  • Iowa State wide receiver Quenton Bundrage privately worked out for the Buccaneers, a league source tells Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post. Bundrage tore his ACL in 2014, but bounced back in 2015 to catch 41 balls for 548 yards and four touchdowns.

Combine Pressers: Colts, Bengals, Falcons

The last of today’s head coach and general manager press conferences with the media are in the books, so let’s check in on the highlights for the noteworthy sessions that we haven’t already covered. Here’s the latest, with all links going to Twitter accounts for reporters on the scene in Indianapolis:

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson and head coach Chuck Pagano:

  • The team will take a look at all its options at the safety position, which may be an area of need. Grigson indicated that the Colts would like to re-sign Mike Adams, who “never played like he was long in the tooth.”
  • Both Pagano and Grigson stressed the importance of improving the team’s running game. Asked about the possibility of adding a workhorse back, Pagano said he’d love to have a player like that, but added that the club could get the production it needs with a committee approach.
  • Expect the Colts to always be on the lookout for pass rushers. Grigson said today that even if he had 12 pass rushers, he’d want a 13th.
  • Veteran wideout Reggie Wayne hasn’t yet informed the team if he wants to play in 2015. As Grigson notes, everyone knows what he means to the organization, so if Wayne does continue his career, it will almost certainly happen in Indianapolis — for now, he doesn’t have a contract for next season.

Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis:

  • According to Lewis, there have been no discussions yet about his contract, which is set to expire after the 2015 season.
  • Lewis didn’t exactly give a ringing endorsement for Jermaine Gresham when he was asked today if there’s a place on the Bengals for the free-agent-to-be going forward. The veteran tight end is considered likely to land elsewhere this offseason.
  • According to Lewis, the Bengals have made a conscious effort to draft high-character plays in recent years. The head coach acknowledged that in some cases he can’t “fix” a player with off-field issues, and he doesn’t want to waste his time dealing with the distractions.
  • Lewis confirmed that he has spoken to veteran defensive back Terence Newman, who wants to continue his playing career. It’s not clear yet if there will be a spot in Cincinnati for Newman, who will turn 37 in September.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff:

  • We covered Dimitroff’s presser earlier this afternoon, but the GM also spoke to local media off to the side, and addressed a few more topics. Among them: Dimitroff said the Falcons would like to get a deal done quickly with kicker Matt Bryant, who is eligible for free agency.
  • We heard this morning that the Falcons haven’t opened negotiations yet on a contract extension for Julio Jones, but Dimitroff was adamant today the club wants to keep the standout receiver in Atlanta for years to come.
  • Both Dimitroff and Quinn are high on running back Devonta Freeman, whom the GM thinks could be a full-time back in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme.
  • According to Dimitroff, Quinn’s philosophy is that you don’t have to pay a huge amount for a pass rusher. The GM added that he believes the free agent class has some depth at that spot, and it’s worth noting that Quinn’s defense in Seattle frequently rotated part-time specialists in and out as a way of pressuring the quarterback.
  • Cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford should be scheme fits for the Falcons’ new system, per Quinn.