Reported yesterday by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, and then confirmed by the team, former Falcons cornerback Brent Grimes signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Grimes first joined the Falcons as an undrafted free agent out of Division II school Shippensburg University in 2006. He would be allocated to NFL Europe the following spring before making the Falcons practice squad the ensuing fall. He would be promoted to the roster in October 2007 and rise to become starter in 2008. He would lose the job before regaining it late in 2009 due to injuries and lead the team with 6 interceptions. He would become a Pro Bowler in 2010 and continued his high level of play again in 2011. But he suffered an Achilles tear in the season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs this past season, missing the remainder of the season.
Currently the leading candidate to start at cornerback opposite Asante Samuel is Robert McClain.
As first reported by FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer
, and later confirmed by the team
, the Falcons agreed to a two-year deal with defensive end Osi Umenyiora late Wednesday evening. It was a move that was believed to be in the pipeline since last week
and was initially expected to be done over the weekend. But it took a few extra days to finalize the deal. Various outlets report
that the deal is worth a base value of $8.5 million with $5 million in guarantees that are due in the first year. The max value of the contract has been reported to be between $12 million
and $12.5 million
Umenyiora joins the Falcons after spending the past decade with the New York Giants. Originally drafted as a second round pick in 2003, Umenyiora played nine seasons with the Giants and collected 75 sacks in that span. He was a bookend opposite potential Hall of Famer Michael Strahan in New York (2005-07) before Strahan’s retirement ceded the job to Justin Tuck (2008-11). This past year, Umenyiora was relegated primarily to a situational rusher, splitting reps with Jason Pierre-Paul opposite Tuck. He is coming off a 6-sack eason in 2012, and has seen his production decline steadily since 2010 when he had 11.5 sacks. The two-time Pro Bowler is expected to replace veteran John Abraham in the Falcons lineup opposite Kroy Biermann. Umenyiora was born in London of Nigerian descent and resides in the Atlanta area during the off-season.
Adam Schefter of ESPN tweets that the Falcons are expected to try and wrap up a contract with free agent defensive end Osi Umenyiora, formerly of the New York Giants, this weekend. Umenyiora visited with the team this past Wednesday. The free agent market for pass rushers has heated up this week, with several of the remaining top veterans such as Elvis Dumervil, John Abraham, and Dwight Freeney making a number of visits.
Umenyiora, 31, first joined the Giants as a second round pick out of Troy State in 2003. In nine seasons (he missed the 2008 season with a knee injury), Umenyiora tallied a total of 75 sacks for the Giants and earned Pro Bowl bids twice in 2005 and 2007. In 2005, his 14.5 sacks were a career high as well as the leader among NFC pass rushers. His production has slipped somewhat in recent years, with his last double-digit sack season coming in 2010 where he totaled 11.5 sacks. In 2011, his production fell to 9 sacks and to 6 this past season. Part of that has been due to less reps from the improvement shown from Jason Pierre-Paul. Umenyiora has largely been relegated to situational pass rusher playing predominantly right defensive end in the Giants nickel subpackage.
He is of Nigerian descent and was born in London, England. Umenyiora owns an off-season home in Atlanta.
The Cleveland Browns announced the signing of cornerback Chris Owens today. Owens, a former Falcon, was an unrestricted free agent. Fellow free agent Brent Grimes visited the Browns this past weekend. Owens signed a one-year deal with the Browns, with undisclosed terms.
Owens was drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2009 draft out of San Jose State. He played late in his rookie season as a replacement for an injured Chris Houston, and performed well in six starts with 26 tackles and 2 interceptions. The following season, he lost a camp competition to Grimes for the starting position and was moved into the slot as the nickel back. He struggled that year and was eventually benched in favor of Brian Williams. He then replaced an injured Williams in the Falcons playoff game against the Green Bay Packers, and struggled in the loss. In 2011, he showed up late in the season as an injury fill-in for Grimes on the outside, where he was more respectable. This past year, he once again got reps as an injury fill-in with starters Dunta Robinson and Asante Samuel nursing some injuries. Owens also proved to be a valuable special teams player over his time in Atlanta, tallying 26 stops on special teams.
The Oakland Raiders announced today that they have signed former Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker. Walker was an unrestricted free agent. Terms of his new deal have not be disclosed.
Walker is coming off his best season since being drafted by the Falcons in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft. In 2012, Walker had career highs of 3 sacks and 32 tackles while starting 9 games largely as a replacement for an injured Corey Peters. The Falcons will likely be counting on larger contributions from 2012 seventh rounder Travian Robertson and undrafted free agent Micanor Regis, both in their second years, to replace Walker in the rotation.
Field Yates of ESPN Boston tweets that Falcons free agent offensive tackle Will Svitek has signed a deal with the New England Patriots. Terms of his contract were not disclosed.
Svitek missed all of hte 2012 season due to a triceps injury suffered during training camp. He started 10 games for the Falcons at left tackle in 2011, as a replacement for an underachieving Sam Baker. Svitek first joined the Falcons in 2009, and has primarily served as the team’s swing tackle but has logged 12 starts over the years as an injury replacement at left tackle. Prior to joining the Falcons, he spent three seasons as a reserve with the Kansas City Chiefs after being a sixth round pick in 2005. Svitek likely will act as insurance in case the Patriots are unable to re-sign right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. Svitek’s role in Atlanta as swing tackle is expected to be assumed by Lamar Holmes. Mike Johnson performed the role for much of the 2012 season in Svitek’s absence, but Johnson’s immediate future may lie at right guard as competition to recently re-signed free agent Garrett Reynolds.
Adam Schefter of ESPN first reported that the Falcons have agreed to terms with former St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson, which has been confirmed by the team to be a three-year deal. Jackson becomes the first new player to join the Falcons in the 2013 off-season. He will likely supplant Michael Turner as the Falcons’ new starting running back.
Jackson is coming off his eighth consecutive 1000-yard season, rushing for 1,042 yards and 4 touchdowns last year with the Rams. Jackson is one of eight NFL players to rush for 1000 yards in at least 8 of his first 9 seasons. Five of those players are current Hall of Famers, and two more (not counting Jackson) in Jerome Bettis and LaDainian Tomlinson are likely to get inducted in due time. Jackson has been voted to the Pro Bowl three times in his career, most recently in 2010.
Jackson was the Rams top pick in the 2004 draft out of Oregon State, where he spent a year as the understudy to Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk before taking over duties in his second season. He has missed a total of just 11 games over the subsequent eight seasons, showing good durability for a player at his position. Known for his toughness and strong character, Jackson was looking to join a winning team. The Rams made the playoffs during Jackson’s rookie season, but have failed to finish above .500 in any subsequent year with him as the lead back. Jackson is also a significant factor in the passing game with 407 career receptions and 3324 yards, which leads all active running backs in the NFL.
UPDATE: D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports the deal with Jackson is worth $12 million over three years with $4 million guaranteed.
On the league’s official list of free agents published Tuesday afternoon by the Associated Press, Falcons tight end Michael Palmer’s name was listed among the restricted free agents who were not tendered offers from their respective clubs. That makes Palmer an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team. As a restricted free agent, if the Falcons had tendered him, they would have received the right of first refusal, the ability to match any offer that Palmer may have signed with another team. That ability to match would have extended to a 7-day period. If the Falcons did not match the deal, they would be entitled to draft pick compensation based on the original round that the player was drafted. Since Palmer was an undrafted free agent in 2010, the Falcons would have needed to tender him at the second round level. Then they potentially would have received a second round in the unlikely event that another team tried to sign him.
Palmer’s lack of a tender doesn’t preclude his return to the Falcons in 2013. But he’ll likely have to accept a near-minium deal that pays him substantially less than the $1.323 million he would have received had he been tendered.
Long-time Falcons center Todd McClure is set to retire on Thursday per an AJC report, following a tweet from former Falcon receiver Brian Finneran yesterday of McClure’s intention. McClure will hold a press conference and file his retirement papers according to the AJC.
McClure is the longest-tenured Falcon currently on the team, first joining the team as a seventh round draft pick in 1999. He would miss his rookie season with an injury, going down with an ACL tear on the opening day of training camp. But he would return and land the starting center job midway through his second season and never relinquish it. Over the course of the next 13 seasons, he would log 195 starts, missing only 4 starts from 2001-12. Before missing time at the start of the 2011 season, McClure had made 144 consecutive starts without missing a game. His 198 total appearances are fourth most in team history, and his 195 starts are the third-highest.
Consistently undersized as far as NFL centers go, McClure learned to be effective with leverage and intelligence. He anchored offensive lines that for three consecutive seasons (2004-06) finished atop the league in rushing yards, and ranked fourth in 2002. During the time when the Falcons were quarterbacked by Michael Vick, McClure routinely called out the team’s protections. That intelligence and experience helped a young Matt Ryan, who has since become the 9th-least sacked quarterback in NFL history.
The Falcons will likely employ a competition between Peter Konz and Joe Hawley at center to replace him in 2013. Hawley started three games in 2011 as a replacement for McClure.
The Falcons announced the signing of offensive tackle Sam Baker to a six-year contract after an initial report broken by FOX Sports’ Alex Marvez late Tuesday night. Terms of Bakers’ deal were undisclosed.
It will be interesting to see where Baker’s price tag compares with recently signed free agent tackles in Jermon Bushrod, who struck a five-year, $36 million deal with the Chicago Bears early on Tuesday, and William Beatty, who re-upped with the New York Giants two weeks ago on a five-year deal worth close to $39 million.
Baker was the second player taken by new GM Thomas Dimitroff in the 2008 draft after the selection of Matt Ryan with the team’s top pick. The team moved up into the latter part of the first round to select Baker, when at the time the team had a hole at left tackle. Baker’s first season was plagued by injuries, as he platooned with Todd Weiner throughout the year. He finished the year with 5 starts in 8 total appearances. He started 14 games in 2009, once again being limited by an ankle injury midway through the season. He started all 16 games in 2010, following that up with 12 starts in 2011. After a subpar ’11 season, Baker started all 16 games in 2012 and had his best year earning his new deal.