Archive for June, 2007

Snelling signs 4-yr. deal

June 29th, 2007 Comments off

The D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the team has agreed to a four-year deal with seventh round running back Jason Snelling. Snelling is the second of eleven Falcon draft picks to sign. Terms of his contract were not reported.

Snelling is expected to split time potentially at both running back and fullback. He played both positions while at Virginia, although spent his senior season at the former position where he rushed for a career high 772 yards and averaged 4.2 yards per carry.

This may be the first of a few more draft pick signings, as the AJC reported earlier this week that two or three more draft picks may sign contracts by this weekend.

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Vick investigation has stalled

June 28th, 2007 Comments off

It had been reported that Surry County officials had planned to meet two weeks ago to review collected evidence in order to figure out where the Michael Vick investigation would progress. Now the AJC reports that meeting has not yet taken place, and there has been no word if or when such a meeting may take place at a later date.

On June 7, federal investigators executed a search warrant of Vick’s former property. And with this latest development, it seems that the federal government has become the forerunner in this investigation. WVEC reported that federal investigators were looking for the remains of dog carcasses, dogfighting equipment, and blood stains.

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Jackson lawsuit resolved

June 28th, 2007 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the lawsuit between Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson and the organization has been resolved. However, the Falcons themselves declined to comment on any specifics.

As part of the resolution it seems that Jackson received a one-year contract extension. He signed a three-year contract with the Falcons last summer and had $3 million in base salary due to him over the next two seasons. That base salary has not increased, as he will have $1 million base salaries in each year through 2009, but it is unknown if any additional signing bonus was given to him.

Update: According to Pro Football, Grady Jackson received roughly $4.5 million in extra money as part of his contract extension.

He received a $250,000 signing bonus as part of his one-year extension and will is set to receive a $250,000 roster bonus on September 7, the Friday before the start of the regular season. He is set to receive two more roster bonuses of $2 million each at the start of both the 2008 and 2009 seasons, due in March. There also exists $1.25 million escalator provision that could be added to his future base salaries of $1 million in each 2008 and 2009.

Based off this information, Grady is set to have a cap figure of $1.375 million this year, somewhat of a reduction considering that he was set to earn $1.5 million alone in base salary based off his old contract. If the 2008 and 2009 roster bonuses are paid, he will have cap figures of $3.125 million in each year, not counting the potential for escalators.

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More rookies could sign this week

June 27th, 2007 Comments off

Steve Wyche of the AJC reports that the Falcons should have inked at least two more of their draft picks by the end of this week. Wyche’s sources indicate that they will likely be some of the team’s mid to later-round selections. The team has already signed fourth round pick Stephen Nicholas. Earlier reports indicated third rounder Laurent Robinson was close to signing.

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Fandom in the Free Agency Era

June 24th, 2007 5 comments

Being a Falcons fan has been tough over the years. It has been beaten to death that the team has never had consecutive winning seasons. We have seen so many promising starts end with disappointment. Some have asked me why I was a Falcons fan to begin with, and my answer is that I lived near Atlanta when I was younger, and started following the team because of it. The NFL has fans that have no such association, so I began to wonder why they attach to a certain team.

For the older fans, they may have liked a particular player, be it that the player went to a nearby college, or just had a personality they liked. Prior to free agency, these players would have been with the same team for a long time, so it would have been easy to keep up with the player and grow fond of the team.

For the younger fans, they tend to be children of NFL fans, may follow the team because their parents/alternative role models do. I know this to be true with my own children, as they can identify the Falcons and many of the players on the team, due to my fandom. If it were not for me, I doubt they would have any interest in the team whatsoever.

It begs the question, how does the NFL draw fans that live away from an NFL team and have no family or friends to draw them in? I strongly believe that free agency has hurt the league in this aspect. It is very difficult for those that are not truly invested to keep up with the players constantly changing teams, and the team doesn’t truly have an identity, unless it employs a long-term coach, which is also rare.

I believe that the NFL should restructure the salary cap and free agency rules to allow teams more flexibility in keeping players that were drafted by the team and players who have been with the team for a long period. Basically, the cap hit for these players should be smaller than it would be for another team if they switched. This will still allow players to change teams if they desire, but would give the teams that draft well the ability to retain their own players and keep an identity. There is nothing worse than seeing a Jerry Rice playing for the Raiders or Emmit Smith playing for the Cardinals due to a cap number. I think this would be good for the veteran players, as they could finish their careers where they are comfortable, and it would be good for the league, as fans would be able to follow the core players throughout their careers with the same team, and the league would benefit from having identifiable teams to the casual fans.

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Falcons sign Huff

June 22nd, 2007 Comments off

The Falcons signed free agent linebacker Orlando Huff, formerly of the Arizona Cardinals. Huff started 25 games the past two seasons for the Cardinals on the weakside. He likely will get a chance to resume those duties in Atlanta due to the injury of Demorrio Williams, who is expected to miss at least a significant part of the summer due to a torn pectoral muscle.

Huff has experience playing both the weakside and middle linebacker spots. He played the latter for much of his four-year stint with the Seattle Seahawks. The 6’3″ 236-pound linebacker was originally a fourth round pick in 2001 out of Fresno State. In 2006, Huff totaled 70 tackles and 1 forced fumble in 13 starts with the Cardinals. For his career, he has started a total of 48 games, with 261 tackles, 3 sacks, and 2 interceptions in that span.

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Falcons interested in supplemental prospects

June 22nd, 2007 Comments off

Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times reports that the Falcons have shown interest in two potential supplemental draft prospects. Nebraska offensive lineman Chris Patrick and Georgia cornerback Paul Oliver are on the Falcons radar.

Patrick measures 6’4″ 296, and did 31 bench reps of 225 pounds, ran a 5.3 40, and had a vertical leap of 27 inches at his personal workout, which the Falcons attended among several other teams. Patrick played tackle at Nebraska, starting on the left side since late in his sophomore year. Many teams project him to guard on the NFL level due to a lack of bulk.

Oliver, a two-year starter at Georgia, worked out recently and was clocked with a 40 time between 4.5 and 4.58 according to sources. He also had a 33.5-inch vertical leap. He is scheduled to have a personal workout for the Falcons. Going into this upcoming college season, he was considered one of the top cornerbacks in the SEC, but was declared academically ineligible prompting him to declare for the supplemental draft. Over the course of his three-year career, he tallied 83 tackles, 7.5 for loss, 3 sacks, 7 interceptions, 8 pass breakups, 5 forced fumbles, 1 recovery, and 2 quarterback hurries.

Both Patrick and Oliver are considered middle round possibilities in the supplemental draft.

The Falcons have chosen only one player in the supplemental draft in the team’s history, which was defensive end Matt Teague in 1980. Teague only played one season with the Falcons (1981), in which he appeared in 11 games.

The supplemental draft has been held each summer since 1977. Teams essentially bid on players, submitting which player they want to select and in which round they want to select him. Tie-breakers are determined based off the team’s finish the previous season, with worse teams getting the edge. If a team drafts a player in the supplemental draft, they forfeit that round pick in the following college draft.

Last summer, the Cincinnati Bengals chose linebacker Ahmad Brooks in the third round of the supplemental draft. The draft has brought some stars to the NFL in the past, but also some notable busts. Pro Bowlers such as Bernie Kosar, Cris Carter, and more recently Mike Wahle and Jamal Williams all got their NFL starts via the supplemental draft. But players like Brian Bosworth and recently Tony Hollings have been some of the notable busts.

Update: The supplemental draft will be held on July 12, 2007.

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Finneran out for the year

June 21st, 2007 Comments off

Steve Wyche of the AJC reports that receiver Brian Finneran recently had reconstructive surgery on his left knee, ending any chance for a comeback in the 2007 season. Finneran tore his ACL in his knee last summer.

The loss of Finneran should open up greater opporturnities for rookie receiver Laurent Robinson and second-year receiver Adam Jennings for extended playing time this season at wide receiver.

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Rookies to sign soon

June 21st, 2007 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons expect many of their remaining unsigned rookies to sign relatively soon.

Fourth round linebacker Stephen Nicholas was the first to sign last week. Third round receiver Laurent Robinson is one Ledbetter notes is expected to sign soon. GM Rich McKay indicates that more signings should come within the next week. The Falcons have ten unsigned rookies out of their eleven total draft picks. Typically the Falcons in the past have waited until the weeks prior to the open of training camp before signing any of their rookies.

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Falcons ink Nicholas

June 16th, 2007 Comments off

The Falcons signed the first of their eleven draft picks in fourth round linebacker Stephen Nicholas. Nicholas agreed to a four-year deal. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

Nicholas is expected to compete for playing time early in his career. Starting weakside linebacker Demorrio Williams is expected to miss time due to a torn pectoral muscle, giving Nicholas a chance to replace him early in the season as the starter at that position.

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