Will Atlanta Falcons Extend A.J. Terrell's Contract? Everything We Know

Neither A.J. Terrell nor the Atlanta Falcons have revealed much about a potential extension for the team's top cornerback.
The Atlanta Falcons have a contract decision to make on cornerback A.J. Terrell.
The Atlanta Falcons have a contract decision to make on cornerback A.J. Terrell. / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons' list of 2025 free agents is extensive, but perhaps none are more important than cornerback A.J. Terrell.

On a defense with plenty of questions, Terrell is a key part of the answer. The 25-year-old is penciled in as Atlanta's No. 1 corner, a role he's held since entering the league as the No. 16 overall pick in 2020.

Terrell has ascended to a leadership role in the Falcons' secondary, cementing his value both on and off the field - but with training camp just over two weeks away, he faces an uncertain future.

Atlanta picked up Terrell's fifth-year option on his rookie contract last April, and the 2021 second-team All-Pro will play this fall on a $12.344 million deal, according to OverTheCap.

So, what's next? Is an extension looming for Terrell? Here's what's been said by Terrell and Falcons' management, from head coach Raheem Morris to general manager Terry Fontenot.

TERRELL FOCUSED ON SEASON

The 6-1, 195-pound Terrell had 45 tackles, four tackles for loss and 11 pass deflections while starting all 17 games in 2023. He's looking for his first interception since Week 17 of the 2021 season - and isn't letting contract talks get in the way of his on-field play.

"I’m doing me," Terrell told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter during OTAs. "I’m going to let my agent handle that."

FONTENOT HIGH ON TERRELL'S TALENT, MUM ON FUTURE

Terrell is represented by Athletes First agent David Mulugheta, who's the primary recipient of Fontenot's Terrell-related financial discussions.

"We'll never get into those private conversations (with the media)," Fontenot said in March at the league owners meetings. "Those are things that we'll talk specifically with him and his agent about, and at the appropriate time, make everyone aware of it. But love AJ and everything he's about."

Fontenot, a safety in his playing days at Tulane University, knows the value of defensive backs. He said cover corners are a premiere position, and he's fond of the diverse traits Terrell brings to the table.

"The worker, the consummate pro that he is, that's what you get excited about," Fontenot said. "But the mindset that he has, the way that he works, he's just a consummate pro. And that's important."

MORRIS SEES NEW & IMPROVED TERRELL

When Atlanta drafted Terrell in 2020, Morris was the defensive coordinator. For the final 11 games, Morris was Terrell's interim head coach. After the season, Morris became the Los Angeles Rams' defensive coordinator, shifting his focus away from Terrell.

But this spring, after being hired as head coach to replace Arthur Smith, Morris began studying film on the Falcons' returning players - and he was pleased with how much growth Terrell has made in the three years that followed their farewell.

Now back together again, Terrell had a strong spring and summer, impressing Morris throughout organized team activities.

"He’s been doing a really good job," Morris said during OTAs. "A.J. has been so locked in. The player and the thoughtfulness that he puts behind everything that he does has really been to a different level since I’ve been back.

"His ability to go up there with the effort and energy that it takes to go play that position has really been exciting to watch and exciting to see."

THE BOTTOM LINE

Eight cornerbacks in the NFL have an annual salary of at least $18 million according to Spotrac. There is a decent gap between No. 9 Tre'Davious White ($17.3 million) and No. 10 Carlton Davis ($14.5 million). Terrell's next contract will probably be at the back end of the top-10 range.

He's is a cornerstone player for Atlanta's defense; he's now set to play for his third coaching staff in five years, but amidst the steady state of flux around him, he's consistently performed at a high level.

There's no firm timeline for Terrell and the Falcons to agree on a deal, but the Atlanta native has long appeared satisfied at home, and his coaches - both past and present - have spoken highly about his two-sided value.

And so, a long-term commitment feels the most likely outcome - but when, and how much, remains to be seen.


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Daniel Flick

DANIEL FLICK

Daniel Flick is an accredited NFL writer for Sports Illustrated's FanNation. Daniel has provided boots-on-ground coverage at the NFL Combine and from the Atlanta Falcons' headquarters, among other destinations, and contributed to the annual Lindy's Sports Magazine ahead of the 2023 offseason. Daniel is a co-host on the 404TheFalcon podcast and previously wrote for the Around the Block Network and Georgia Sports Hospitality Media.