The Atlanta Falcons are expected to meet with recently released cornerback Brandon Boykin on Monday according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The Falcons are looking for depth at the cornerback position in part due to the looming suspension of second-year corner Jalen Collins for the first four games of the 2016 regular season. The team already met with free-agent corner Leon Hall earlier this month, but decided to pass on signing him according to ESPN.
The Falcons showed reported interest in Boykin earlier this offseason at the outset of free agency, but he later signed with division rival Carolina Panthers at the end of March. However Boykin was released by the Panthers last week after the team took three cornerbacks in their 2016 NFL Draft class. Boykin was on the Panthers roster for about seven weeks.
Should Boykin join another team in the coming weeks, it will mark his fourth team within the past year. Boykin spent three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles after being a fourth-round pick in 2012. He was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers last August in exchange of a fifth-round pick in the 2016 draft. He then became a free agent after the season.
Boykin, 25, has been one of the league’s more productive slot corners throughout his days in Philadelphia, but wanted the opportunity to earn more reps beyond being a nickel corner, which prompted the trade to the Steelers last summer. However, he saw even less playing time with the Steelers last year, finishing with a career-low 21 tackles and five pass breakups. He also added an interception and a sack.
Boykin is a native of Fayetteville, Georgia, just outside Atlanta. He attended the University of Georgia and joining the Falcons would be a homecoming for him. While at Georgia, Boykin was a three-year starter that earned All-SEC honors as a senior with 55 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, three interceptions and nine pass breakups.
Boykin was also a highly productive returner in his collegiate days, setting a school record with 2,663 kickoff return yards. He averaged 24.2 yards on 110 kickoff returns and scored four touchdowns throughout his college career. Boykin also returned punts as a senior, averaging 12.9 yards with a single score on 14 returns. However Boykin has only managed to return a single punt through four years in the NFL. He did serve as the Eagles primary kickoff returner during his rookie season, averaging 23.0 yards on 45 returns before losing those duties to other players in subsequent seasons.
Boykin’s smaller stature, as he is listed at 5’10” and 182 pounds, makes him a less-than-ideal fit for the Falcons’ defensive scheme, given it’s emphasis on taller, longer corners. But the team doesn’t have a strong candidate to play the slot beyond Robert Alford currently on the roster. The Falcons are also potentially looking for insurance in the return game in case Devin Hester fails to stay healthy this summer coming off offseason toe surgery. The team already added Devin Fuller in the draft, who was a productive returner in college at UCLA.