FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Falcons have picked up A.J. Terrell's fifth-year option, the organization announced on Friday. The current league year is set to be Terrell's fourth season in the league after being drafted by the Falcons with the No. 16 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. By picking up his fifth-year option, the Falcons can keep Terrell in Atlanta and off the free agency market until after the 2024 season.
Terrell - for his part - has been one of the best young cornerbacks in the league since his arrival to the professional ranks during the COVID-19 plagued 2020 season. He truly jumped onto the scene in his second year, though. Playing in over 1,000 defensive snaps in 2021, Terrell had one of the best graded years by a corner according to PFF. Terrell graded out to an 82.6 defensive grade, while boasting a coverage grade of 85.6. During that year, Terrell was targeted 66 times, only allowing 29 catches on 200 yards. He allowed a career low of three touchdowns, but career highs in both interceptions (three) and pass breakups (13).
Though Terrell's most recent season didn't light up the league like his 2021 season did, his performance was still a notable one, one that continued to show why Terrell is one of the best assets the Falcons have on their defense. Terrell finished the season with a PFF defensive grade of 60.8.
Atlanta Falcons players are back at Flowery Branch to kick off prep for the 2023 season.
Though a decline from the year before, it should be noted that Terrell did work through a hamstring injury throughout the middle of the 2022 season. Not an excuse but an explanation: When you do break down his stats and performances game by game, you can actively see which games the hamstring affected him. Terrell's hamstring injury came to a head in Week 7 against Cincinnati, and he would miss the next three games because of it. Prior to that Week 7 game, though, Terrell's worst two games by a large margin came in Week 5 and Week 6 as he actively attempted to work through the hamstring injury.
After taking three games off after Week 7, Terrell returned in Week 11 of the 2022 season, putting up performances more akin to what he's notorious for.
Terrell will be one of the leaders of a very different secondary come the first week of the 2023 season. Terrell has a new secondary coach in Jerry Gray. He's also joined by Jessie Bates III after the Falcons made a splash on the first day of free agency to get the Cincinnati safety. Terrell may also have a new running mate on the opposite side of the field with fellow 2020 first-round pick Jeff Okudah, who the Falcons traded for a couple weeks before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft.
As for Okudah, The Athletic's Josh Kendall reported he is not eligible for a fifth-year option because his contract was restructured prior to the Lions trading the cornerback to Atlanta.