Falcons fortify CB depth with veteran signing

Antonio Hamilton worked his way from career backup into a starting opportunity, and when a kitchen accident threatened that chance with the Cardinals, the veteran cornerback rebounded and reclaimed a first-string role. Despite being north of 30 at a position largely unkind to aging talent, the 31-year-old Hamilton has secured another gig.

Antonio Hamilton. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Per a team announcement, the Falcons signed Hamilton on Thursday, adding the recent Cardinals starter to their AJ Terrell-fronted corner group. With Jeff Okudah departing in free agency, the Falcons still appear to have some work left to do at this position. But Hamilton will attempt to carve out a role with Raheem Morris‘ team.

Hamilton’s career has not overlapped with Morris, DC Jimmy Lake or the Falcons’ secondary coaches. But Morris did have a chance to observe the former UDFA for three seasons as Rams DC. Hamilton, 31, spent the past three years with the Cardinals. He started 14 games over the past two, keeping a first-string gig despite Arizona changing coaching staffs last year.

Hamilton suffered severe burns in a cooking accident before the 2022 season, and also made some cameos on that year’s in-season “Hard Knocks” edition. Hamilton only needed around a month to recover, moving off the NFI list in October 2022. He started five games for the Cardinals and re-signed with the team — on a one-year, $1.5M deal — in March 2023. Jonathan Gannon‘s defense deployed Hamilton as a nine-game starter last season.

Hamilton began last season as a seldom-used backup but returned to regular duty midway through the season, playing at least 70% of Arizona’s defensive snaps in every game he played from Week 5 onward. This included the veteran playing every defensive snap in the Cardinals’ final four games. Hamilton broke up a career-high 11 passes and improved in some coverage metrics; the 6-foot cover man allowing a 59.2% completion rate as the closest defender. Pro Football Focus assigned the South Carolina State alum a mid-pack grade, placing him 61st at the position in 2023.

Okudah, who started nine games for last year’s Falcons, signed with the Texans. The Falcons still roster 2023 fourth-rounder Clark Phillips as an outside option opposite Terrell, but Hamilton will factor into that mix. This is the sixth career stop for Hamilton, who has been with the Raiders, Giants, Chiefs, Buccaneers and Cardinals since 2016.

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