ATL News / Sports

The case for the Falcons to re-sign Foyesade Oluokun

Dean Pees decided during the offseason that he planned on moving Foye Oluokun to the MIKE linebacker position, where Deion Jones has played since entering the league, which subsequently moved Debo to the WILL backer position. Oluokun’s tackle total directly results from the position change, second in the NFL in tackles with 166 and on pace for 188. On Sunday against the Lions, Foye came up big with a game-sealing interception on Lions’ quarterback Tim Boyle in the red zone.

The Falcons will have a difficult decision regarding the former Yale safety’s future in Atlanta as he’s set to hit free agency this offseason. Obviously, the team wants him back. There’s a never-ending stream of compliments and appreciation from the staff and his teammates alike that proves how valuable of an asset Foye is to this team.

“I think he’s an ascending player,” head coach Arthur Smith said of Oluokun. “He’s really taken charge of this defense. He runs the show out there. He’s embraced his role and run with it this year. It’s been fun to watch his progress.”

“A lot of times young guys like that kind of give up the role of being a leader to guys who have always assumed that role,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said via The Athletic. “Sometimes they are a little bit reluctant to be real vocal, like, ‘I am not trying to take over your leadership job,’ but I think he has learned that is part of his job, and it doesn’t take anything away from those guys.”

“Foye has been lighting it up,” Deion Jones said. “It’s a product of his hard work and how he attacks every week. It’s paying off well. He took the middle linebacker role and ran away with it. I’m happy for him.”

“He runs the show out there for us,” Pees said. “He is very, very intelligent and it means a lot to him. (The middle linebacker) has to sort everything out back there and he has to be conscientious. He is smart, he is physical, he is super conscientious. It’s important to him, and that’s what you want in that guy.”

The Falcons don’t have many positions with quality starter and depth talent, but off-ball linebacker is certainly one of them. Foye and Debo are a formidable duo, with Mykal Walker being a capable backup. Even though Jones has struggled this year, things could be undoubtedly worse. It is unclear how the staff views his performance this season, but he’s dragging this defense down to fans. Moving positions in a new scheme is difficult, and in Pees scheme, Jones has been tasked to defend the run in a downhill manner, which is somewhere he’s always struggled.

There is a chance the Falcons trade Jones and save $9 million, which would pave a path for the team to resign Foye. After restructuring his contract this offseason, I think Terry Fontenot will leave Jones’s contract be with the anticipation that he can grow in the system. If the Falcons can’t trade the former LSU Tiger, the chances of retaining Foye dwindle. The former Yale Bulldog is playing better ball than his counterpart to this point, and he might elect to test free agency. Still, the Falcons could likely afford an $8-9 million per year deal with Oluokun, but anything over that, they should let him walk.

 

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