As the Falcons prepare to head to training camp with a defense that may not be much better than the one that gave up 20-point and 17-point leads in the postseason last year, a key piece of the puzzle may not be under contract when practice begins.
When Atlanta traded up to the 22nd spot to draft cornerback Desmond Trufant, the team landed in the slot that produced Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden’s contract in 2012. And Weeden finagled three years of fully-guaranteed money plus $920,000 fully guaranteed in the fourth year of his deal.
That’s nearly $170,000 more than the player taken before Weeden (Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones) received in fully-guaranteed money in the final year of his rookie contract.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Trufant’s camp hopes to parlay the Weeden slot into a higher guaranteed payment than the player in front of him, Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, received. Several days ago, the Bengals split the fourth-year compensation for Eifert equally between a guaranteed base salary and a non-guaranteed roster bonus due early in the 2016 league year.
The team’s simple response should be that Weeden plays quarterback, and that quarterbacks still get extra consideration in their rookie deals. Of course, if the simple response were going to work, it would have worked by now.
In a year that has seen multiple top-10 picks blink on the question of whether they’ll get to double dip if they’re cut within four years, Trufant could be digging in on this far more substantive question of whether he’ll get as much of his fourth-year salary guaranteed as Weeden did last year. Which means it will be harder for the Falcons to get Trufant ready to step right in and to help fill the void created by the decision to release Dunta Robinson and to let Brent Grimes leave via free agency.