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Bair Mail: On A.J. Terrell, Jeff Okudah and the future at cornerback, plus Matt Bergeron, Russell Wilson and Justin Fields

We discuss the Falcons' present and possible future in this Friday mailbag.

The Falcons are still alive in the playoff chase, as Terrin Waack breaks down for you right here. Odds, as she points out, are not great in relation to the NFC South and wild-card qualification.

There is, however, a chance for the Falcons to sustain life over the season's last two weeks.

Such a situation has created some variance in the mailbag, where some want to present and others want to talk about the future.

We'll try to balance that a division bit in this Friday edition of Bair Mail.


Sawyer Young from Canton, Ga.

Hey Bair, I hope your doing well and had a good Christmas. My question for you is who do you think is better: Clark Phillips III or Jeff Okudah?

Bair: That's a subjective argument without a definitive answer at this time, but it's an interesting discussion point as the Falcons look toward the future at the cornerback spot. A.J. Terrell will continue locking down one side, either on his fifth-year option or an extended contract. I just can't imagine him playing elsewhere.

The Falcons also have Mike Hughes and Dee Alford under contract in 2024. Clark Phillips III is, too, and Jeff Okudah is set to become an undrafted free agent. We've seen Okudah play well early in the season. His passer rating against and yards allowed hasn't been good over the last several games.

Phillips has stepped in for Okudah recently, with starts in the past three games. He has fared well there and is certainly an option to start at outside cornerback in 2024, but he's far from a sure thing.

I don't see a problem re-signing Okudah again and letting them compete. I think Okudah could sign a decent deal that lasts a few years. If that's the case, keep this group together. Don't use another draft pick on a cornerback when you've got good options available and, presumably, a large sum headed toward Terrell next offseason.

While we're always looking for change, I think the Falcons stand pat at this spot. If the Falcons let Okudah walk, adding an experienced veteran is a solid option.

David Hicks from Marshalltown, Iowa

New Year's Greetings! With Bijan getting a lot of opportunities for big runs and looking like a star in the making, I think an unsung hero for his success is rookie guard Matt Bergeron. He's been opening up running lanes and provides good protection. Games are won in the trenches and Matt looks like he's locked down that position for the future. Your thoughts on that Scott?

Bair: Love a legit question about an offensive lineman. Thanks for this one, Dave. You're right to notice that Matt Bergeron has been really good as a rookie. Bergeron made the switch to guard and has thrived on the inside. He has made some rookie mistakes – the Syracuse alum has allowed four sacks and 27 total pressures – but he has been steady and fit right into this experienced offensive front.

Don't believe me? Listen to Chris Lindstrom.

"(Bergeron) is about as good of a rookie in the NFL as you can possibly find," Lindstrom said. "He's been a phenomenal addition to our room, just in his approach and the style in which he plays and how quickly he's learning and how hard it is to play guard in the NFL as a rookie and he's doing phenomenal."

J.B. Stonesipher from Houston, Tex.

Howdy Bair, I'm seeing all kinds of rumors about us going after Russell Wilson or Justin Fields in the offseason. Which was one would be more financially friendly for us? Which one makes the most sense?

Bair: You'll see tons of rumors surrounding the Falcons and available quarterbacks this offseason. Such is life when you have a perceived need at the position. While the Falcons have made zero indication of what their long-term plan may be at the position – don't expect one any time soon – that won't stop all the veterans from being linked to the Falcons, appropriately or not.

I've been asked about Justin Fields before, and I don't see it as a great fit. He's an athlete and a Georgia native, but the Falcons have passed on him before despite having a top-5 pick. Would they take him now, with three fewer years on his rookie deal? Doubt it.

Regarding Russell Wilson, it'll depend on what he's willing to sign for. I believe he has some offsets in a deal with Denver that locks him into some serious cash, so he could go somewhere for cheap. That means he might be able to pick his club. If he doesn't require much cash and wants a prove-it deal, Wilson would be intriguing in a very short term. The Falcons suffered due to critical mistakes, which Wilson didn't often make in 2023. I don't think adding a veteran like that would alter NFL draft plans, either.

All that said: I'm not sure this is the way to go, though, the opportunity can't be eliminated based upon experience, an excellent resume and the prospect that he might cost the Falcons much. If he wants a backloaded deal with guarantees, I wouldn't get anywhere near that.

Take a look as the Atlanta Falcons put in the work in Flowery Branch for the game against the Chicago Bears, presented by Fast Twitch by Gatorade.

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