The Atlanta Falcons have found a new starting cornerback.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on April 11 that the Falcons have acquired cornerback Jeff Okudah from the Detroit Lions for a 2023 fifth-round pick.
The Lions drafted Okudah third overall in the 2020 NFL draft. The only players that went ahead of Okudah in that draft were quarterback Joe Burrow and defensive end Chase Young.
Atlanta’s only fifth-round choice this year is the No. 159 overall selection. So, essentially what that means is the Falcons have traded their No. 159 overall pick for a defender who was a top five choice just three years ago.
As one could expect from the fact Detroit traded him before the end of his rookie contract, Okudah disappointed with the Lions. He has dealt with injuries throughout his first three seasons in the NFL. In 2021, he ruptured an Achilles tendon during Week 1, which knocked him out of the remainder of the season.
During 2022, Okudah started 15 games. He recorded 73 combined tackles, including 2 for loss, and 7 pass defenses. He also had 1 interception, which he returned for a touchdown, and 1 forced fumble.
With the arrival of Okudah, the Falcons have found a replacement for Isaiah Oliver, who signed with the San Francisco 49ers in free agency. Okudah should start opposite A.J. Terrell, which would give the Falcons two former first-round picks at cornerback.
Still on his rookie contract, Okudah is relatively affordable. Before the trade, he was set to count as about a $10.7 million cap hit.
The Falcons, though, will not take on his entire salary. The Falcoholic’s Kevin Knight tweeted that the Lions will pay Okudah’s prorated bonus. Therefore, Atlanta will owe Okudah the remaining $5.18 million on his 2023 contract.
In addition to Okudah, the Falcons added veterans Mike Hughes and Cornell Armstrong at cornerback this offseason. With those additions, it’s worth wondering if general manager Terry Fontenot has ruled out drafting a cornerback at No. 8 overall in the first round.