Desmond Trufant has a lot riding on his shoulders this season. The Falcons secondary lost arguably their best corner (despite him missing all but one game last year) in Brent Grimes to the Miami Dolphins. They also let go Dunta Robinson and Christopher Owens. While those two were more expendable than Grimes, it leaves the Falcons' secondary in a state of flux. Despite still retaining veteran Asante Samuel and solid nickel corner Robert McClain, the Falcons needed CB help. This is why GM Thomas Dimitroff drafted Trufant with his first overall pick in this year's NFL draft. However, the future of Atlanta's secondary remains unsigned only three days before training camp begins.
Trufant was drafted not to be a special teams player and learn the ropes in his first season. He was drafted to bring his shut down corner ability to the NFL and have a big role in the secondary starting in his rookie year.
Cited as having great speed, physicality and the ability to be a ball hawk, Trufant was one of the better corners taken in this year's draft. The Falcons also drafted CB Robert Alford in the second round to help bolster a secondary that lost a lot of pieces last year. But it was all supposed to begin with Trufant.
So why haven't the Falcons and Trufant worked this out yet? Money.
But unlike Matt Ryan, what Trufant wants isn't based on the market value of competing players at his position, it's based on competing players who were drafted with the same pick as he was. Trufant was drafted with the same pick this year as Cleveland Browns quarterback, Brandon Weeden in the 2012 NFL draft. Based off that, Trufant wants the same amount of money that Weeden made last year.
Atlanta Journal Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter explains:
Weeden signed a four-year, $8.083 million deal with $4.318 million signing bonus. Of his deal, $7,511,288 is guaranteed, according to NFLPA salary documents. The Browns probably showed Weeden some additional"Quan" because he was a quarterback. The Falcons apparently are reluctant to match that guaranteed total and both sides are trying to find a common ground.
Trufant's value isn't nearly the same as Weeden's. The quarterback position is the toughest position in the NFL. The quarterback touches the ball more than anyone on the field and is expected to be the one player who can lead a team to victory. While defensive backs are important, their value isn't nearly in the same stratosphere as a quarterback.
Offense is the bread and butter when it comes to the NFL. Teams can lose cornerbacks in the offseason and usually be able to replace them in the draft or through free agency. Case in point with Trufant and Alford coming into replace Grimes, Ownes and Robinson. If a team loses its starting quarterback, its absolutely detrimental. There is no way the Falcons could possibly replace Matt Ryan coming into this season if he were to go down with an injury.
Giving $7 million guaranteed dollars to a player at the cornerback position who is unproven in this league would be unwise. Thomas Dimitroff knows this and continues to stand his ground, hoping Trufant and his agent will eventually drop their price.
It is important that they come to an agreement soon, as Trufant's development is key in the Falcons improving their secondary. If he holds out and the contract isn't done by the start of training camp, it could hurt Trufant's ability to adequately learn defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's complex pass coverage schemes. It will also limit his general growth as a rookie NFL player.
With Matt Ryan's contract also hanging in the balance, Dimitroff has a lot on his plate right now. There's no reason to think that these deals won't get done, the only question is when. Trufant needs to be on the field come day one learning everything he can before the preseason begins.
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