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Looking Ahead to 2006

January 29th, 2006 3 comments

Unfortunately, 2005 didn’t end as we had hoped. However, what’s done is done and now it’s on to 2006, where hope springs eternal. There are many questions to be answered this offseason and none may be as large as the status of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The Collective Bargaining Agreement is key to this offseason as it sets the limits on what the Falcons can and can’t do financially to improve the team. There are several roster bonuses, option bonuses and other incentive clauses that could be converted to signing bonus (thus freeing up large amounts of cap space) providing the CBA is extended. If it’s not extended then not only are those restructuring ideas made more difficult but there is also the possibility of a work stoppage. The uncapped season scheduled in 2007 is not beneficial for anyone and would most likely open up the perverbial Pandora’s box. Hopefully, this issue will be solved in March.

Onto what lies ahead. The Falcons are roughly $9.5 million OVER the cap. That means there will be cuts, restructures, and extensions as usual. Michael Vick has a $7.5 million roster bonus due (part of the guaranteed money of his latest extension) and it will be converted to signing bonus which would spread it out over 4 years without the CBA extension and 7 with it. Even at 4 years, this one move would free up $5.625 million.

Although unconfirmed, I believe that DeAngelo Hall is due an option bonus of roughly $6.5 million this offseason. If this is the case, that would certainly be converted to signing bonus and would get the team on the positive side of the cap ledger.

Patrick Kerney enters the last year of the deal and with a cap charge of $8.842 million, I’m sure the team is looking to work out an extension here. A best guess scenario would be a savings of $2 to 3 million may be possible here.

Warrick Dunn presents a large problem this offseason. He’s restructured previously and now faces a year where he’ll count $8.5 million against the cap. The team will either re-work this deal somehow or cut him outright and save about $4 million. I am of the opinion that an extension might be worked out and still save the same amount.

Todd Weiner comes up on the last year of his deal and at a cap charge of $4.6 million will most likely face being cut at a savings of $3.5 million or be extended out at a substantial savings.

Brady Smith is another player entering his last year. At a charge of $3.075 million, the team may look elsewhere for a RDE. Smith is 33 and has missed extensive amounts of practice time the last two seasons and missed well over half the season last year.

There are certainly holes to fill but there is definitely ample opportunity to create the room to fill them. McKay and company have many options and decisions ahead of them and some have most likely already been made. The next month will tell a lot.

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Next stop…Detroit!

January 25th, 2006 Comments off

Well, for those that didn’t hate me before, they probably will now. It’s official, mark your calendars. When the Super Bowl is aired on February 5, 2006, this guy right here is going to be in attendance.

It is quite an event. My very first Super Bowl. How did I get tickets you might ask? Well my father in his eternal benevolence purchased them for me and my older brother to attend the game with him. This will be his third Super Bowl, but I believe it will be the one that he may eventually come to remember as his favorite because he is a Pittsburgh Steeler fan and this will be his first opportunity to see the team that he has loved for the past 30 years when a world championship in person.

Although I rooted against the Steelers in the AFC Championship (mostly out of spite), I’m going to have to turn the tables and don the black and gold for this jaunt in Detroit. The truth is that I really never disliked the Steelers, and they used to be the only team outside the Falcons that I actively rooted for. I’m just not a fan of Bill Cowher, and think he is slightly overrated as a coach. My dislike of Cowher probably hit its head in 2001 when they lost for the first time to the Patriots, and ever since I’ve sort of been an anti-Cowher guy. Don’t get me wrong he’s a good coach, but I truly question his ability to win the big game, and I lump him into the other “good but not great” coaches like Schottenheimer and Reeves. And I can’t root for the Seahawks, because I have no love for that team. The Falcons loss to the Seahawks this past season left an extremely bitter taste in my mouth, until that Packers loss left something even more bitter. But old wounds heal slowly, and frankly speaking, besides the Bucs, Rams, and Cowboys there probably isn’t another team higher on my sh*t list than Seattle.

But enough about my feelings on the Steelers, let’s get back to the game. I don’t know really what to say. I know I’m blessed with an opportunity to do something that only a few individuals can say they have. Well, not a few because we’re probably talking about hundreds of thousands if not millions of people that are currently living and have gone to a Super Bowl, but as a percentage it’s probably less than 1% of America.

As to what exactly I plan to do in Detroit, I’m not sure. My dad is setting up some itenerary of sorts, but I’m not sure I’m going to be following it to the T. We’ll see. I plan on doing three things: 1) watching the game 2) drinking and 3) having fun. Whatever comes between those things, will just have to come.

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Get over it

January 20th, 2006 1 comment

Isn’t anybody else getting tired of all the talk still going on about the Pittsburgh Steelers-Indianapolis Colts game? I mean I’m still hearing people talk about that game in the past 48 hours. It’s over, let it go. The media cannot. I know much of the world picked the Colts to win the game (I did not, and I have proof), but is it really that much of a shocker. The Steelers should have been the first team to beat the Colts in the regular season. They of course did not, but why oh why were the written off so easily this past week?

And I know it was a fantastic finish for the media types to write about, but there are bigger fish to fry now. The Steelers defeat of the Colts will wind up meaningless if they lose this week to the Broncos. I mean, about the only historical significance this game will have is that it will be remembered as another instance of Peyton Manning choking, and may be a part of the highlight reels that is Jerome Bettis or Ben Roethlisberger’s careers in retrospect.

I’ve heard it mentioned that some “experts” belief this to be one of the weakest final fours in NFL history. I think not, the Panthers are an excellent team, and were robbed of a Super Bowl victory 2 years ago off an Adam Vinatieri field goal. Had they not suffered such great injuries last season, they probably would have returned to the big game. One more win last season, and they would have been playoff-bound, and considering how hot they were down the stretch (like they were in 2003), they would have been a team to reckon with in the playoffs. The Seahawks aren’t what I’d call an amazing team. They are definitely beatable, but you have to respect them because they are a very consistent team and despite a very young defense, they have played very well this year. They remind me of the Philadelphia Eagles of 2004. The Broncos aren’t anything special, but they beat the Patriots, and that has to count for something, considering that team hasn’t lost a playoff game since 1998 as I recall. The Steelers are a tough team. Not as strong overall as they were a year ago, but they are a team that is capable of winning the Super Bowl.

Fact is all that sort of talk is sour grapes on the part of analysts and experts in the fact that their two favorite teams to stroke aren’t in it anymore. That of course is the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.

Sure, this potential Super Bowl doesn’t have the great marketing value of having either of those two teams in it. But I think it’s going to make for a better game. Fact is, in August I predicted the Panthers to beat the Colts in the Super Bowl. Indy was bound to lay an egg. It’s practically inevitable when you have Peyton Manning as your quarterback and Tony Dungy as your head coach. I expected that egg to come in the Super Bowl, but now it just came two games earlier.

I for one am going to be rooting for the Panthers and Broncos this week. I root for the Panthers mainly because if they win the Super Bowl, I’ll feel pretty good about my prognosticatory skills. That would mean that my preseason pick of the Spurs winning the NBA title last year coupled with this pick, means that at least for two years in two different sports I picked the team to win it all in the preseason. I’m rooting for the Broncos because I went to school in Pittsburgh, and much of my college buddies are die-hard Steeler fans as well as my father and oldest brother. I can’t have any of them holding the Steelers Super Bowl win over my head, especially when the Falcons themselves laid a huge egg this past season. I just can’t bear the torment and the crow-eating.

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Disappointment

January 14th, 2006 1 comment

It was a very disappointing year for being an Atlanta Falcon fan. I know, not exactly something that is a new development, but nonetheless, there is some sense of a feeling that this franchise is cursed. I imagine the heartache that a long-time Falcon fan feels is much greater than mine, since I’ve only been a fan since I was about eight years old (circa 1991). For guys that have been fans since the 60s, 70s, and 80s, it must be much worse.

For the first time in franchise history the Falcons looked like they would go the route of the Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox and “reverse the curse.” At the midway point when we were 6-2, and with “cupcakes” like Green Bay, Detroit, and New Orleans left on the schedule, and the unlikely chance that we would get swept by both the Panthers and Bucs, it was unimaginable that the team would not go to 9-7 and end that hideous streak.

Alas, it was not meant to be. I’m not here to cite the variety of reasons why I think the team failed, because they did. And it might just boil down to the team wasn’t good enough. And now us loyal Falcon fans are forced to wait another two years in hopes that the streak will be broken, and finally we can truly say that we are seeing the beginning of a new era of Falcons football.

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