The Atlanta Falcons have watched the outgoings the first few days of free agency, but now they’ve dipped a toe in the free agent waters with their first signing. The Falcons are bringing in 32-year old cornerback Casey Hayward according to Ian Rapoport.
Hayward is from Perry, Ga. and went to Vanderbilt. He was originally a second-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2012. He spent his first-four seasons in the NFL with the Packers before moving on to the Chargers.
Hayward was a Pro-Bowl selection with the Chargers in 2016 and 2017. He played with the Raiders last season and started all 17 games.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) ranked him as the 12th best cornerback in the NFL last season. Pairing him with A.J. Terrell (PFF’s No. 2 cornerback) should give defensive coordinator Dean Pees significantly more options.
The Falcons have been linked with a corner with their No. 8 pick in the draft including Cincinnati’s Sauce Gardner, and signing Hayward wouldn’t necessarily negate that option. Atlanta is also hoping they won’t be drafting at No. 8 and instead will be sending that pick to the Houston Texans as part of a deal for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Hayward looks to be an immediate upgrade over last year’s starter Fabien Moreau. A career backup before coming to Atlanta, Moreau struggled mightily his as a starter and would best be relegated to a backup, nickel role. Moreau was ranked the No. 85 cornerback in the NFL by PFF.