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Report: Falcons ‘Extremely Interested’ in Asamoah

March 9th, 2014 Comments off

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post cites unknown league sources that the Atlanta Falcons are “extremely interested” in Kansas City Chiefs offensive guard Jon Asamoah, an impending free agent.

While the official start of free agency begins Tuesday afternoon, teams are currently allowed to legally “tamper” by talking with potential free agents until then. No reports yet on whether Asamoah and the Falcons are actively discussing a contract. But the Falcons are not alone in their reported interest in Asamoah, as reports surfaced early Saturday that the New York Jets were another team that intended to make a play for him.

Asamoah is considered one of the premier guards potentially available in free agency, along with teammate Geoff Schwartz. However, Asamoah lost his starting job to Schwartz last season thanks to a shoulder injury suffered in Week 11. Asamoah missed the Chiefs’ season-opener with a calf injury, but started the next nine games at right guard before being sidelined and sitting the bench for the final six games.

Prior to last year, Asamoah started a combined 31 games at right guard in 2011 and 2012. He was originally a third-round pick by the Chiefs out of Illinois in 2010.

You can check out my assessment of Asamoah’s strengths, weaknesses and how he potentially fits in Atlanta.

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FalcFans Weekly Round-Up – March 9, 2014

March 9th, 2014 Comments off
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Ebron

Publishing weekly round-ups dealing with various Atlanta Falcons news was a regular event during the abyss known as 2011 NFL Lockout. Since then, I haven’t had much need for them but I figure that it is time to dust them off this offseason.

Partially because my day job has me traveling a lot during the week which limits the number of timely updates and posts I can have during the week involving Falcons-related items. So they will be partially house-cleaning for any stories I may not have written during the week.

I will also aggregate some articles, both Falcons-related and not, that I think are worthy of views that were posted during the past week.

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The Falcons are actively working on retaining some of their own free agents including defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, center Joe Hawley, and guard Mike Johnson according to reports.

Rounding up news involving Falcons free agents is that defensive tackle Peria Jerry is also unlikely to be retained, prompting some celebration.

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North Carolina tight end prospect Eric Ebron joins the list of potential draft picks being openly in favor of playing for the Falcons. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney previously voiced his favor for Atlanta as a potential landing zone. Here’s what Ebron had to say:

I would love to play for the Falcons. Julio Jones, Roddy White and Matt Ryan – I would love to play with those guys. Those are big shoes to fill, which I’m not afraid of. I can’t walk into the league expecting to be Tony G. I’m just going to compete as hard as I can as myself.

Read more…

Falcons Hire Defensive Assistant

March 8th, 2014 Comments off

Jason Munz of the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reports that the Atlanta Falcons have hired former Southern Mississippi assistant coach Andrew Thacker as a defensive assistant.

Thacker spent one season on the Golden Eagles staff after three seasons as a graduate assistant at Oklahoma State. There he worked with the team’s linebackers. He also spent two years as a graduate assistatnt at Central Florida following his playing career as a safety at Furman.

During his time at Furman, Thacker earned All-Southern Conference Academic Honor Roll all four seasons. He finished his career with 43 starts at both free and strong safety, tallying 254 career tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, four interceptions, eight passes broken up, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and a blocked kick. He also ran track at Furman as a member of the school’s 4×100 meter relay team.

Thacker, 28, is a native of Cumming, GA.

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Jason Snelling Hangs It Up

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

AP Photo/Phil Coale

Jason Snelling

The Atlanta Falcons announced this evening that running back Jason Snelling has opted to retire from the NFL after seven seasons as a pro. Snelling spent the entirety of his career with the Falcons after being a seventh-round pick in 2007. Only fellow ’07 draft selection Justin Blalock along with 2005 selections Jonathan Babineaux and Roddy White have longer tenures with the team.

Snelling turned 30 this past December, finishing a career in which he appeared in 96 games with six starts. His career marks of 363 carries and 1,420 rushing yards ranks 19th and 20th, respectively, on the team’s all-time list. He also caught 168 passes for 1,249 yards, and combined for 17 total touchdowns during his career.

Snelling played both running back and fullback during his time in Atlanta, serving as an injury fill-in at both positions throughout his career. His best season came in 2009 when he replaced an injured Michael Turner as the team’s lead rusher for the final six games. He finished that season with a career-high 613 rushing yards.

A notable special teams player as well, Snelling recorded 39 stops over his career in that capacity and led the team with 18 special teams tackles in 2008.

Snelling dealing with the possibility of life after football was hinted when he decided not to travel with the team for an away game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following an arrest in November. Snelling cited personal issues as the reason for his absence at the time.

He was entering the final year of a three-year contract he signed in 2012. His retirement frees up $1.375 million in 2014 salary cap space per Over the Cap.

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Peters Re-Ups for One Year

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that defensive tackle Corey Peters agreed to a one-year contract. Peters was an impending free agent, as the period where players can officially join new teams begins a week from today. Per Scott Carasik of Draft Falcons, Peters’ deal is worth $1.5 million minus playing-time incentives.

Originally a third-round pick out of Kentucky by the Falcons in 2010, Peters has been a regular starter since joining the team. He is coming off his most productive season, tallying career-highs of 46 tackles and five sacks. Peters suffered a torn Achilles tendon at the end of this past season however, limiting his potential market. He had successful surgery in January and is currently in a walking boot for a few more weeks.

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Falcons cut Garrett Reynolds

February 18th, 2014 Comments off

Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

Garrett Reynolds

The Atlanta Falcons announced earlier this evening that guard Garrett Reynolds was released from the team. Reynolds’ departure was expected given his finishing the 2013 season on the team’s inactive list coupled with the recent signing of Gabe Carimi, who potentially fills the same niche. Per Over the Cap.com, Reynolds’ release frees up nearly $1.4 million in cap space for the Falcons in 2014.

Reynolds started the first nine games of 2013 at right guard, but was benched in Week 11 when the team inserted center Joe Hawley into the lineup and moved Peter Konz from center to right guard. But Konz performed poorly early in that game, and Reynolds finished the game at right guard. He would resume his starting position the following week against the New Orleans Saints, but would not finish that game due to his own struggles. He was reduced to a backup role with hardly any playing time for the next four games, before being inactive in the team’s season finale against the Carolina Panthers.

Reynolds was originally a fifth-round pick by the Falcons out of North Carolina in 2009. He spent his first two seasons as a backup to right guard Harvey Dahl, before getting first crack at replacing him in 2011. But he was benched after making seven starts that year in favor of Hawley, who finished the season as the starter. Reynolds would again resume the starting position in 2012, making six starts before injuries sidelined him for the remainder of the year. He was then replaced by Konz for the rest of the season.

The Falcons have had a revolving door at the right guard position since the departure of Dahl before the 2011 season. That has been partly due to the fact that Reynolds has not shown the consistency to hold the position long-term. However, Reynolds did make steady progress each year. Per the site Pro Football Focus, he graded out better each subsequent year as a starter finishing with a career-best +2.8 grade this year. That grade rated second-best on the Falcons behind left guard Justin Blalock in 2013.

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Falcons Add OL Carimi

February 17th, 2014 Comments off

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Gabe Carimi

The Atlanta Falcons announced the signing of free agent offensive lineman Gabe Carimi today. Carimi was recently released by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was traded to the Buccaneers last June after two unsuccessful seasons with the Chicago Bears, where he was coached by new Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice. Per multiple reports, Carimi signed a one-year deal.

Carimi was the Bears’ top selection in the 2011 out of Wisconsin, and according to Michael Holley’s book The War Room, would have been the likeliest target of the Falcons had they not opted instead to trade up for wide receiver Julio Jones. Carimi suffered through an injury-plagued rookie season with the Bears, starting just two games before landing on injured reserve. He returned in 2012 to start the first 10 games at right tackle before poor performances led to his being benched. He would be re-inserted into the starting lineup two weeks later as an injury replacement for right guard Lance Louis, and started three games there where he fared better. He would start one more game at right tackle before the season was done. However, when the Bears fired their coaching staff following 2012, the new regime decided to trade him after making several moves in the offseason to upgrade their offensive line.

This past year for the Buccaneers, he started the first two games of the regular season at left guard as an injury replacement for Carl Nicks. Nicks returned to the lineup for two games before his season was finally over. Instead of putting Carimi back into the lineup as a starter, the Buccaneers decided to shuffle around their offensive line, putting center Jeremy Zuttah at left guard and backup Ted Larsen at center. Eventually, the Bucs settled on Jamon Meredith at left guard, with Carimi serving out the remainder of the 2013 season as a sixth offensive lineman and tight end.

Carimi could potentially help the Falcons at multiple positions, but will likely be asked to play either right guard or right tackle in Atlanta. Click here to read a scouting report on Carimi from 2011.

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Falcons Add OL Coach Harman to Staff

February 7th, 2014 Comments off

Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Atlanta Falcons have hired Wade Harman, formerly of the Baltimore Ravens, to their coaching staff as the assistant offensive line coach. At the end of the 2013 regular season the Falcons fired both offensive line coaches in Pat Hill and Paul Dunn, and hired Mike Tice to coach the unit.

Harman previously served as the Ravens tight end coach for the past 15 years, being an original hire of former Ravens head coach Brian Billick in 1999 alongside current Falcons head coach Mike Smith. During his tenure in Baltimore, Harman coached the likes of Shannon Sharpe, Todd Heap, and Dennis Pitta. Prior to joining the Ravens, Harman worked with Tice as a coaching assistant coach with the Minnesota Vikings (1997-98). Before his stint in Minnesota, Harman was an assistant coach on the college level for a decade. He got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant with his alma mater Utah State in 1987. Harman played linebacker at Utah State after starting his college playing career at Drake.

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Falcons Release Nicholas and Samuel

February 5th, 2014 Comments off
Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Stephen Nicholas

Alex Marvez of FOX Sports cites sources that the Atlanta Falcons have released linebacker Stephen Nicholas and cornerback Asante Samuel today. Marvez’s report was subsequently confirmed by the team. NFL teams were allowed to begin releasing players starting this past Monday, and the release of veterans such as Nicholas and Samuel had long been expected. Nicholas was on the roster bubble since last summer’s training camp, while Samuel’s exit seemed inevitable once the team opted to bench him at the end of the 2013 season.

Per figures at OverTheCap.com, the combined release of both players frees up over $6 million in cap space for the Falcons. Nicholas was set to count $4 million against the Falcons’ 2014 cap, and frees up $2 million in cap savings. Samuel was set to count nearly $5 million against the 2014 cap, and his release frees up roughly $4.2 million.

Nicholas first joined the Falcons as a fourth-round draft pick in 2007. He was a reserve with the team his first two seasons before assuming the starting strong-side linebacker position in 2009. He would maintain that grip on the starting position through the 2012 season, before losing it this past year. For his career, Nicholas appeared in 101 games, starting 50 of them. He also recorded 329 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles over the course of his Falcon career.

Samuel was traded to the Falcons from the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 in exchange of a seventh-round draft pick. Samuel started 25 games over the course of two seasons with the Falcons, missing some time due to injury. During that span, he recorded 66 tackles, 6 interceptions and 22 pass deflections. Samuel came to the Falcons after playing four seasons with the Eagles and five seasons with the New England Patriots. Originally a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in 2003, Samuel would earn four Pro Bowl trips and two Super Bowl titles over the course of his 11-year career. His 51 career interceptions currently rank fourth among active NFL players on the all-time list. For his career, Samuel also has 437 tackles, 145 pass deflections, and six pick-sixes.

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Ex-Falcon Claude Humphrey Elected to Hall of Fame

February 2nd, 2014 Comments off
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Claude Humphrey

Former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Claude Humphrey will become the second Falcon player to earn the distinction of being a Hall of Famer, as the league announced that Humphrey is part of the 2014 class of players to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Humphrey joins cornerback Deion Sanders, who was inducted in 2011, as the only pair of former Falcon players to earn a bust in Canton.

Humphrey joins fellow defensive end and former New York Giant Michael Strahan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders punter Ray Guy, Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, and Arizona Cardinals/St. Louis Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams as part of the 2014 class. Humphrey is alongside Guy as the two members elected by the senior committee

Humphrey was a first-round pick by the Falcons in 1968 out of Tennessee State. He made an impact right away, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. In 1970, he earned the first of six trips to the Pro Bowl, and the following year earned his first of five first-team All Pro honors. Despite individual success, Humphrey did not find the team success he was looking for and promptly retired after the 1978 season. Up until then, he had only been on two Falcon teams in eleven years that finished the year with a winning record. But following his retirement, Humphrey was convinced to reenter the league and was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles where he played the final three seasons of his career before permanently retiring after 1981. Sacks did not become an official statistic until 1982, but Humphrey is credited with 122 career sacks. 94.5 of those came in a Falcon uniform, which still stands as the team’s all-time benchmark.

I mused on Humphrey’s chances of getting into the Hall several years ago, projecting that he might get voted in circa 2013. A lucky guess on my part.

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