Negotiations between the Falcons and cornerback Desmond Trufant picked up at the scouting combine and were completed with a five-year, $69-million contract extension Saturday.
“We are really happy to be able to get this extension done,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Trufant has proven to be a valuable leader to our team, and embodies every trait that coach (Dan) Quinn and I are looking for from players that are a part of our brotherhood.”
About $42 million of the deal is guaranteed.
“I (want to) thank Mr. (Arthur) Blank, TD (and) DQ, for giving me this opportunity to continue my career in ATL,” Trufant wrote on his twitter account. “Thanks to all my teammates and the fans! TRU.”
Dimitroff repeatedly stated that extending Trufant was the team’s first offseason priority, and he and Quinn met with Trufant’s agents Doug Hendrickson and C.J. Laboy at a popular steak restaurant during the combine in Indianapolis earlier this offseason.
Trufant, 26, was selected in the first round (22nd overall) of the 2013 draft. He started immediately as a rookie and was named to the Pro Bowl in his third season.
“Trufant has improved each year, and we believe his best ball is still in front of him,” Dimitroff said. “We knew this extension was going to be a component to our offseason plan, and I am excited with the way we have been able to execute our entire plan as we have built our roster.”
Last season, Trufant was having a fine campaign and was matching up with the opponent’s No. 1 receiver before suffering a season-ending torn pectoral injury after nine games.
The market value for top cornerbacks is lucrative. Trufant’s deal was projected to land in the $12 million to $14 million per year range.
Last April, Washington signed Josh Norman to a five-year, $75 million deal with $36.5 million guaranteed, which is the highest-valued contract at the position.
Janoris Jenkins signed a five-year, $62.5 million deal with $28.8 guaranteed with the Giants in free agency in March 2016. Detroit signed cornerback Darius Slay to a five-year, $51.33 million with a $14.5 million signing bonus in July.
The Falcons re-signed cornerback Robert Alford (four-year, $38 million) and right tackle Ryan Schraeder (five-year, $32 million) to contract extensions during the season.
“We have a fortunate situation right now, where we are able to sign two corners because we have the young linebackers, young safeties and a young defensive end,” Dimitroff said.
The Pro Bowl cornerback has recorded 213 total tackles, three sacks, seven interceptions, four forced fumbles, four fumbles recoveries, and 53 passes defensed in his four-year career.
Trufant marks the ninth player the Falcons have either re-signed or extended, dating to last season.
Quinn said the team will hold Trufant out of the offseason OTA practices, but he expects him to be ready for training camp in late July.
Trufant is recovering from torn pectoral muscle that caused him to miss the final seven games of the regular season. He had one interception, 30 tackles and two sacks last season.
“Trufant is coming along great,” Quinn told reporters at the owners’ meeting in Arizona on Wednesday. “We won’t have him practice during the OTAs, but by the time we get to the training camp, he’ll be ready to go and battle.”