One of the NFL's most accurate kickers in 2021 is being rewarded accordingly.
The Atlanta Falcons are re-signing Younghoe Koo to a five-year, $24.25 million deal, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported. The agreement includes $11.5 million in guaranteed money, per Pelissero, and moves Koo into second in average annual salary among kickers, behind only Baltimore's Justin Tucker. The team later announced the contract.
Atlanta avoids potentially being forced to match an external offer for Koo, who was set to become a restricted free agent. Instead, the Falcons have locked up a kicker whose story is inspiring to those fighting through challenges.
Koo arrived in the NFL in 2017 with the Los Angeles Chargers, appearing in the team's first four games, but his stay ended shortly thereafter due in part to two heartbreaking losses in which Koo missed last-second field goals that would have either tied the game or sent the Chargers to victory. At 0-4, Los Angeles made a change by releasing Koo, and the kicker was out of the NFL for more than a year.
Koo kept on kicking, though, scoring the first points in the Alliance of American Football's short-lived history as part of the Atlanta Legends, and his run of perfection in field-goal attempts in the AAF earned him another look from NFL teams.
He ended up on New England's practice squad before signing with Atlanta in 2019, where he replaced Matt Bryant and finished with a field-goal conversion rate of 88.5 percent. Since then, Koo has become one of the league's most reliable boots, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2020 after converting 94.9 percent of his field goals. He followed up that campaign with a 93.1 percent field-goal conversion rate in 2021, including 4 of 5 from 50-plus yards, 6 of 7 from 40-plus yards, and a perfect 30 for 30 on extra points.
Koo will continue to rewrite his football tale in Atlanta for years to come.