A.J. Terrell Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons News

BR Names A.J. Terrell Atlanta Falcons ‘Most Important’ Contract Extension

Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot has been busy this offseason, but signing cornerback A.J. Terrell to a contract extension may still remain on his to-do list.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox argued that it should be when he named Terrell the team’s most important contract extension ahead of the 2023 NFL season.

“While Atlanta could wait until after Terrell’s fourth season for an extension, as it did with Lindstrom, there’s one big reason not to wait,” wrote Knox.

“To put it bluntly, the price of starting-caliber cornerbacks will only go up. The league’s top cornerbacks, like Jaire Alexander, Marlon Humphrey and Xavien Howard all make more than $18 million annually. That will probably become the floor for Terrell if he has a breakthrough Pro Bowl campaign this season. Getting ahead of the growing CB market and signing Terrell early would be sensible.”

Spotrac projected Terrell’s value to be north of $80.2 million on a four-year contract. That would give Terrell an average annual salary greater than $20 million.

And that projection is with Terrell coming off a somewhat disappointing season. He made second-team All-Pro in 2021 with 81 combined tackles, 16 pass defenses and 3 interceptions. Last season, Terrell struggled a bit, posting 47 combined tackles with 9 pass defenses and zero picks.

Terrell’s struggles could have been connected to Atlanta’s lack of pass rush. The Falcons finished in the bottom three in sacks and quarterback hits. They were also dead last with a 3.6% sack percentage.

Of course, the argument against the Falcons pass rush negatively impacting Terrell is the team wasn’t any better at sacking the quarterback in 2021 when Terrell made second-team All-Pro. In 2021, the Falcons were last in sacks and quarterback hits and posted a 3.0% sack percentage.

Still, NFL analysts expect Terrell, who turns 25 in September, to bounce back this fall. If the Falcons are confident in that expectation, it would be prudent for them to pursue a contract extension for the cornerback before the season.

Terrell will count as a $4.5 million cap hit in 2023. The 2024 season will be the fifth-year option of his rookie deal if an extension isn’t reached before then.

The Falcons have $9.2 million in cap space remaining for the 2023 season. That’s enough to work with to give an extension to the team’s top cornerback.