Monthly Archives: March 2012

Baker, Jerry Receive Vote of Confidence From Smith

I still don’t believe it.

Pat Yasinskas sat down with Mike Smith and asked specifically about the futures of first-round disappointments Sam Baker and Peria Jerry. Concerning Baker, Smith said the Falcons are “very committed” to him.  Smith follows that by saying Baker has a long future with the team. With how badly Baker has performed, this is shocking, disturbing news. As Yasinskas says, Smith is a pretty straight-forward coach, so there’s no reason to believe he’s being deceptive.

On one hand, I don’t quite understand the point of keeping Baker on the roster; cutting him would save $2.6 million. He would be an extremely expensive backup if he can’t hold off Will Svitek for the starting left tackle job.

On the other hand, solid left tackles are difficult to find in the NFL. The Falcons chose Baker in the first round; there’s a chance he can still turn into the player they envisioned him to be when they traded up for him to protect Matt Ryan’s blindside.

It’s more than likely Jerry won’t live up to his first-round draft status. Unlike Baker, cutting Jerry would force the Falcons to take a $2.2 million cap hit.  He’ll still be on the roster when the season begins.

As a Falcons fan, I absolutely want to see these two succeed with the team. Let’s hope that’s exactly what happens.

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Falcons’ Mainstay at Center Returns

The Falcons have re-signed longtime center Todd McClure to a one-year deal.

This puts me at ease for the upcoming season. I was fearful of Joe Hawley being the starter since the Falcons had yet to re-sign McClure. In the action Hawley saw at center this past season, he wasn’t impressive. Of course, that’s understating it a bit, but having McClure back is pretty significant.

Now, I’m not trying to propose that a 35-year-old McClure is an All-Pro center, but he’s certainly a quality starter. Plus, he’s been Matt Ryan’s center since Ryan’s rookie year.

Let’s hope the Falcons can get him the Super Bowl ring he wants and undoubtedly deserves.

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Curtis Lofton is a Saint

Several days after being wined and dined by the New Orleans Saints, Curtis Lofton agreed to a five-year deal with the team.

Lofton was the Falcons’ second-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.  Since being drafted, Lofton has been the Falcons’ starting middle linebacker.

With Lofton, you’re getting a stout run defender who’ll rack up tackles but won’t make many game-changing plays. His lateral speed has already been adversely affected after already undergoing two knee surgeries by age 25. He’s been dubbed as a two-down player, and despite the coaches desperately wanting him to be a three-down linebacker, he never became that. At least it’ll give the Falcons a chance to take the defense in a different direction.

Lofton was one of my favorite Falcons. Unfortunately, now that he’s a member of the Falcons’ biggest rival, he’s officially dead to me.

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NFL Comes Down Hard on Saints

There were reports that the punishment for the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program would be pretty severe. I didn’t think the punishment would be this severe. Roger Goodell has suspended head coach Sean Payton for a year without pay. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt has been suspended for six games. General manager Mickey Loomis has been suspended for eight games. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams has been suspended indefinitely. The franchise has also been fined $500,000 and will forfeit its second-round picks in both the 2012 and 2013 NFL Drafts.

With Goodell’s primary focus being player safety, punishing the Saints was a no-brainer. This punishment also sends a deafening message to the other franchises in the league and will undoubtedly make players and coaches think twice before setting up any sort of bounty program.

All in all, great news for Falcons fans.

The Predator is Back

The Falcons have re-signed John Abraham.  It was a necessary move; Abraham accounted for 9.5 of the team’s total sacks.  If the Falcons had not brought their top pass rusher back, Kroy Biermann or Lawrence Sidbury would have been thrust into the starting right defensive end spot.

Abraham’s re-signing cements the notion of the Falcons already having their guys.  This year’s offseason splash looks to be the changing of the offensive and defensive coordinators.

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All Quiet on the Falcon Front

The Atlanta Falcons have been extremely quiet this free agency period. They have signed guard Vince Manuwai and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Seattle Seahawks, respectively. In addition to these signings, they have brought back rotational defensive end Kroy Biermann, starting free safety Thomas DeCoud, slot receiver Harry Douglas, backup quarterback Chris Redman, backup running back Jason Snelling, and rotational defensive tackle Vance Walker.

They put the franchise tag on Brent Grimes (which he has no plans to sign). Backup tight end Michael Palmer and backup running back Antone Smith were also signed.

Continue reading

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Free Agent News

Vance WalkerChris Redman, and Harry Douglas have been re-signed.

Eric Weems is now a Chicago Bear.  The Falcons will need to sign a kick/punt returner to fill that void.

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Could the Falcons land Mario Williams?

John Clayton believes so, as he lists them among the favorites for the free agent defensive end. With the Falcons’ limited cap space, it’ll be interesting to see how and if they’re able to pull off this signing.

The start of free agency begins in several hours!

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Disheartening News

The Falcons are $5.7 million under the cap.  That’s not nearly enough room to sign Mario Williams. We’ll see what happens once free agency starts tomorrow at 4 pm EST.

With so little space available, it also means the Falcons won’t be able to snag Ben Grubbs or Carl Nicks.  That notion, along with an interview by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter with newly signed Vince Manuwai, points heavily to Manuwai being the Falcons’ new starting right guard.  Let’s hope Manuwai can return to form despite being out of football the past year.

EDIT:  Well, looks like you can add $1.6 million to that cap number.  The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins both lose out on cap space for illegally front-loading contracts in the 2010 uncapped year.  That money is divided up among 28 teams – minus the New Orleans Saints and Oakland Raiders.

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So Long, Curtis Lofton

The signing of Lofa Tatupu can only mean the Falcons are allowing Curtis Lofton to walk.  With the recent extensions of D’Qwell Jackson and Ahmad Brooks, it pretty much spelled the writing on the wall for the Falcons and Lofton to part ways.  Lofton would demand more than the Falcons cared to pay, especially with speculation of him being a two-down linebacker.

The contract is a two-year deal with a maximum value of $5.75 million.

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