When the Atlanta Falcons selected Desmond Trufant at #22 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, there were visions of the rookie cornerback starting in Week 1. However, there is now real concern about the former University of Washington defensive back even signing a contract before training camp begins.
According to a report by Pro Football Talk (later confirmed by the AJC), the Falcons and Trufant are engaged in a contract battle that doesn’t appear to be close to resolution. Apparently, Trufant is searching for more money than the player (Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert) drafted before him received, and he’s using last year’s #22 overall pick (QB Brandon Weeden) as leverage to do so. The Falcons are reportedly invoking the reason that Brandon Weeden is a quarterback, and while that makes complete sense to me (and every Falcons fan, I’m sure), Trufant and his agent aren’t buying it at this point.
The biggest issue for the team is Trufant’s aforementioned place in the projected starting lineup. Frankly, I’m sure that player and agent are fully aware of the team’s need for his services, and thus, they have increased leverage. On the Falcons side, they are in need of his talent for Week 1, but in order to ensure that he can be at least semi-effective, the rookie needs to be on the field in training camp to fully learn the system (fortunately, he was in attendance for mini-camp) and get the proper “reps” heading into the preseason slate.
For now, this is simply a situation to monitor, but if it drags into training camp, the Falcons could have a real issue. The team’s 2nd-round draft pick, Robert Alford, isn’t quite the polished product on defense that Trufant is (he’s more of a return specialist), but we could be seeing a lot of him in the coming days. Stay tuned.