2014 Falcons Free Agent Tracker

April 20th, 2014 No comments

Keeping track of all the latest on the Atlanta Falcons free agent activity, interest, signings and cuts. You can view all of the Falcons free agents here.

Coming

CB Josh Wilson, Redskins (Story) (signed 4/8, 1 yr./$920,000)
S Dwight Lowery, Jaguars (Story) (signed 4/8, 1 yr./$760,000)
WR/KR Devin Hester, Bears (Story) (signed 3/20, 3 yrs./$9 million)
CB/KR Javier Arenas, Cardinals (Story) (signed 3/18, 1 yr.)
OG Jon Asamoah, ex-Chiefs (Story) (signed 3/11, 4 yrs./$22.5 million)
DE Tyson Jackson, ex-Chiefs (Story) (signed 3/11, 5 yrs./$25 million)
DT Paul Soliai, ex-Dolphins (Story) (signed 3/11, 5 yrs./$33 million)
OT Gabe Carimi (Story) (signed 2/17, 1 yr.)

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More Prospects Visit Falcons

April 23rd, 2014 No comments

It’s a pretty busy week for the Atlanta Falcons as their offseason program begins amid the team hosting several of the top prospects in the 2014 NFL Draft this week. Earlier this week we reported on several scheduled visits for the team over the course of this week. But apparently those reports were far from comprehensive.

Yesterday, Central Florida running back Storm Johnson was in town visiting alongside three other prospects. It was already known that UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr would be visiting the team on Tuesday, but Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier and Louisville safety Calvin Pryor were two more that were in the Falcons facilities along with Johnson.

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2014 NFL Mock Draft: Four Rounds – April 22, 2014

April 22nd, 2014 No comments
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Barr

I have a confession to make, I have done a poor job keeping up to date with the mock drafts for the muncher. Basically I got really busy at the end of February and planned to catch up and post an update in March. But I procrastinated and I will try to get another update up before the actual draft. There are a lot of mock updates that I will have missed over the past seven or eight weeks, so it won’t be as thorough as usual. So I apologize for that.

But I guess that’s not stopping me from providing you with my own mock draft if I’m not keeping up to date with others.

Over the weekend, I worked on a little two-round mock based off some of the thoughts I had in this week’s most recent takeaways column. But I decided to expand it to a full four rounds rather than just two. I won’t include trades in this mock, but perhaps this weekend I’ll post a mock that does have trades factored in.

1. Houston Texans – DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina*
2. St. Louis Rams (from Washington) – OT Greg Robinson, Auburn*
3. Jacksonville Jaguars – OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
4. Cleveland Browns – OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
5. Oakland Raiders – WR Sammy Watkins, Clemson*
6. Atlanta Falcons – OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M*
8. Minnesota Vikings – QB Blake Bortles, Central Florida*
9. Buffalo Bills – TE Eric Ebron, North Carolina
10. Detroit Lions – OT Taylor Lewan, Michigan
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Falcons Line Up Draft Visits This Week

April 21st, 2014 No comments

As reported yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons are set to have a busy week where they will have a large number of 2014 draft prospects in and out of team facilities to conduct visits.

Previous reports indicated that outside linebackers Anthony Barr (UCLA) and Khalil Mack (Buffalo), defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney (South Carolina) and Dee Ford (Auburn), wide receiver Jarvis Landry (LSU), offensive tackles Jake Matthews (Texas A&M) and Greg Robinson (Auburn) and running back Terrance West (Towson) are scheduled to visit the team.

One more name can be added to that list, as Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert tweeted this morning that he will making a visit to Atlanta later in the week.

Some of the dates are known for when several of the prospects will visit the team. Ford will be the first to arrive today and stay through tomorrow. He will be joined by his Auburn teammate Robinson and Barr on Tuesday. On Wednesday Clowney, Mack and West will work out for the team. Exact dates for Matthews and Landry’s visits are not known yet. It’s very likely that Gilbert’s visit won’t be until the end of the week.

There is other news involving these prospects, as Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that a notable contingent of the Falcons’ top brass were in the Baltimore area on Sunday to conduct a private workout of West at Towson University. Per Wilson, head coach Mike Smith, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, assistant GM Scott Pioli, and player personnel director Lionel Vital were all on hand to see West.

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Takeaways from Last Week – April 21, 2014

April 21st, 2014 2 comments
Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Khalil Mack could be a trade target for Falcons

As indicated last week, looming questions surround the Atlanta Falcons and their potential to make a trade in this year’s draft. Most of those questions center around the team’s rumored desire to move up at the top of the first round. But there is also a good possibility that the Falcons decide to maneuver later in the draft.

The Falcons currently hold the sixth and 37th overall picks in the first two rounds of the draft. Frankly, I would be very surprised if we’re looking back on the first two days of the draft come May 10 and see that they retained both of those picks. It seems probable that the Falcons could move out of one or both spots.

First, let’s once again discuss the Falcons draft-day trade scenarios with the former pick in the first round.

The Falcons need a pass-rusher to try improve the league’s worst third-down defense and marginally better pass rush. It would be ludicrous to think the team does not believe that the most pressing need is adding someone that can line up at either outside linebacker or defensive end and put heat on the quarterback.

Much of the speculation centers on the team’s possible desire to move up for South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. And I think those rumors have legs. Clowney is clearly the best pass-rusher in this class and from a historical standpoint, matches up with anybody that has come out over the past decade or more. That is an intriguing option for the Falcons, and one that will require careful consideration when we get to the opening night of the draft on May 8.

But the more I think about it, the more I’m starting to believe that trading up for Clowney is unlikely. It’s a definite possibility, but in the end I think it’s going to come down to price tag. If the Falcons can jump up from the sixth overall selection into the top 3 picks of the draft without giving up an arm and a leg, then it’s worthwhile. Last week, I outlined a trade that had the Falcons giving up this year’s first, second and fourth-round picks, along with possibly a second-round pick next year to move up to get Clowney. Whether that meets the definition of an “arm and leg” is up for interpretation, but it’s certainly at least an arm.

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FalcFans Weekly – April 20, 2014

April 20th, 2014 No comments

On this fine Easter Sunday, let’s recap some of the news and stories surrounding the Atlanta Falcons over the past week:

The subject of fifth-year options for 2011 first-round picks became a popular subject this week. The Falcons have yet to exercise their option on wide receiver Julio Jones, and have until May 3 to do so.

The fifth-year option will be equivalent to the top 10 salaries for his position group in 2015, which according to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure will give Jones a salary of $10.176 million next year. That money will be guaranteed, but for injury only.

It is very likely that the Falcons will exercise that option. The only reason not to is because they want to sign Jones to an extension before the start of the 2014 regular season. That certainly is a possibility, but unless progress on talks are pretty far along, it really doesn’t hurt the team to still exercise the option in the meantime.

Jones has a cap hit of roughly $5.15 million in 2014, which means that if the option is exercised, he will make around $15.3 million over the next two years, with roughly-two thirds of it guaranteed.

Comparatively, Mike Wallace signed a five-year contract worth $60 million last offseason, with a $27 million payout in his first two seasons, all of which was guaranteed (according to Spotrac.com). It’s certainly possible that Jones could receive substantially more money in his eventual extension from the Falcons. Through the first five games of the 2013 season before his season-ending foot injury, Jones was leading the league in receptions (41) and second in yards (580) behind only tight end Jimmy Graham (593).

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Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 4/20

April 20th, 2014 No comments

This past week was a big one for the Falcons as they conducted their local pro day where draft prospects from Georgia high schools and colleges got a chance to showcase their stuff in front of the team on Tuesday, April 15.

We originally reported a number of players that were expected to show up, but in the days since there have been more reports about the prospects that were available. Georgia State sent three prospects, the previously reported defensive linemen along with offensive lineman Ulrick John. Clemson cornerback Darius Robinson was another player that himself tweeted he was there. Shane DePasquale of NFL Draft Diamonds reports that Southern Illinois linebacker Bryan Presume was among the prospects.

A pair of Valdosta State wide receivers in Regginald Lewis and Seantavius Jones were reportedly there to work out.

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that other players were there including:

  • Running Back Ryan Boykin, Ohio
  • Outside linebacker Clifton Crews, South Alabama
  • Wide receiver Ryan Culbreath, Furman
  • Safety Kenny Ladler, Vanderbilt
  • Safety Kimario McFadden, South Carolina State
  • Tight End Evan Wilson, Illinois
  • Safety Greg Worthy, Furman

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What if Falcons Focused on Offense in 2014 Draft?

April 17th, 2014 1 comment

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Greg Robinson (73) and Tre Mason could form the cornerstones of the Falcons 2014 draft class

What if the Atlanta Falcons decided to devote the bulk of their early-round 2014 NFL Draft picks to improving and solidifying the offense rather than the defense?

I should have prefaced that question by stating this is more of a thought exercise than any sort of formal proposal.

But one reason why the Falcons might decide to focus on offense because relative to the defense, it seems a lot closer to being elite.

The Falcons defense needs help at all three levels. While the pass rush is the most glaring issue on that side of the ball, the team also needs to shore up depth at several positions including linebacker and safety. And it’s not as if one pass-rusher is going fix the area, as any top-level pass rush has multiple playmakers that can consistently get pressure on the quarterback.

On offense the Falcons already made a big improvement to their offensive line by signing guard Jon Asamoah in free agency. They also added speedster Devin Hester to help at wide receiver and on special teams. But they could use more help.

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Why NFL Teams Are Dumb to Draft Fullbacks

April 15th, 2014 No comments

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The “failure” of Bradie Ewing should be a lesson for the Falcons

It’s been for some time that I’ve held the belief that NFL teams are foolish to use draft picks on fullbacks. That’s largely because it’s a dying position in the NFL and teams are better served trying to draft a player that has a much greater chance of adding value to the roster.

That doesn’t mean that fullbacks lack value, but there is little evidence that teams gain additional value by using a draft pick on the position as opposed to waiting until signing a player in undrafted free agency or off the street.

The Atlanta Falcons have been a good example of this in recent years, utilizing a fifth-round pick on Bradie Ewing in 2012. Ewing was drafted the year after the team was forced to play Mike Cox at the position following a season-ending injury to long-time lead blocker Ovie Mughelli in 2011. Cox performed ably, although he was a far cry from a fully healthy Mughelli. But the Falcons decided that they wanted to utilize a pick on Ewing the following spring, and it did not pay off for them.

Ewing missed his rookie season with an injury, and the team was forced to go with Cox for another year. He did a solid job, but the team decided to part ways with him again to give Ewing another shot. But Ewing had another injury-riddled season in 2013, and the team brought in Patrick DiMarco to replace him. Like Cox, DiMarco filled in ably for the Falcons.

Now the Falcons are potentially in the same position in 2014 to try and address their fullback position in the draft. With ten picks slated for the team in 2014, it would seem the odds are pretty good that one of them will be a lead blocker given that DiMarco is the only player on the roster.

So I’m writing this as a warning to the team. Don’t do it! Don’t draft a fullback!

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Several Locals Working out for Falcons Today

April 15th, 2014 No comments

As first reported eleven days ago, the Atlanta Falcons will be conducting their local pro day today at the team’s facilities in Flowery Branch, Georgia.

The local pro day is there for players with connections to nearby high schools and colleges to get a look from a nearby NFL team. It represents an opportunity for a lot of smaller school guys to get on the team’s radar. The Falcons have had players like tight end Michael Palmer and linebacker Akeem Dent work out for them in past local pro days.

This year, a number of local prospects are said to be participating. Not only is Alabama-Birmingham offensive tackle Kaycee Ike participating, but per Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, East Carolina tight end Justin Jones is one of them. Jones hails from Conyers, GA and is a massive tight end prospect, listed at 6’8″, 277 pounds and reportedly leapt 37.5 inches on his vertical jump when he worked out at Georgia State’s pro day last month. He was declared ineligible this past year, coming off career-highs of 25 catches and 346 yards as a junior. He also had three touchdowns in 2012.

Wilson was also the first to report that Portland State running back D.J. Adams and Tennessee-Chattanooga cornerback Kadeem Wise were also participating.

Adams is a native of Norcross and began his collegiate career at Maryland, where he scored 11 touchdowns on 67 carries as a freshman. His workload decreased the following year and he transferred to Portland State seeking more playing time. He received it, leading the team in rushing both years. He combined for 420 carries for 2,567 yards with 31 touchdowns. He also caught 28 passes over his two years with the Vikings. Adams measured 5’9″, 213 pounds at his pro day, where he clocked a 4.62-second 40-yard dash time.

Wise is a native of Lawrenceville, and was a four-year starter and four-time All-Conference honoree at UTC. In 45 career starts, he totaled 204 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 11 interceptions and 21 pass breakups. He clocked a 4.47-second 40 time and did 15 bench reps of 225 pounds at his pro day earlier this month.

Georgia State defensive tackle Terrence Woodard will also be participating alongside defensive end Theo Agnew as previously reported. Woodard was a member of GSU’s inaugural team when the school established a football program in 2010. Woodard started the past two years, earning team MVP honors as a junior. As a senior, he had 50 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble playing nose guard.

UPDATE: D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Tennessee running back Rajion Neal, Georgia Tech safety Jemea Thomas, Vanderbilt wide receiver Jonathan Krause and Middle Tennessee cornerback Kenneth Gilstrap are also participating today.

Wilson also reports that Utah State cornerback Nevin Lawson is in Atlanta to conduct a two-day visit with the team. While he’s not a local since he hails from southern Florida, Lawson could figure into the Falcons draft mix. He is projected as a mid-round pick by CBS Sports.

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