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FalcFans Weekly – April 20, 2014

April 20th, 2014

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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This week, the Falcons announced the waiving of cornerback Saeed Lee and tight end Adam Nissley. Both players spent the 2013 season on injured reserve after suffering injuries during training camp. Lee was an undrafted free agent a year ago, while Nissley was added prior to the start of 2012. But he also missed that season with an injury as well.

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While it has been a poorly kept secret for months that Atlanta had been pegged for a new Major League Soccer franchise, news of the expansion was officially announced this past week. Falcons owner Arthur Blank will be the owner of the team which is set to begin play in the spring of 2017 with the opening of the city’s new stadium and will share the venue with the Falcons. The new soccer team is as of yet unnamed, but will feature the color scheme of red, black and gold. MLS expansion into Atlanta isn’t without its critics, but at the very least will help Blank’s bottom line when it comes to the new stadium which has received pushback recently with some hidden costs.

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The folks at SB Nation and The Falcoholic have provided some worthwhile stories this week.

Dave Choate provides a road map for the Falcons draft on what positions will be addressed. I have to agree with Dave that I’d be very surprised if the Falcons exited the 2014 draft without addressing the same six positions: running back, safety, offensive tackle, pass-rusher, tight end, and inside linebacker. What order they address those positions in remains to be seen, although it seems that pass-rusher would be top priority and inside linebacker would be lowest priority.

While many are talking about trading up including Kenneth Arthur of Field Gulls and Jake Bennett of Blogging Dirty, The DW has three trade-back scenarios the Falcons could take over. All interesting and feasible, but one that was left off is probably the one that has the most legs at least as far as the media is concerned: trading back to pick No. 10 with the Detroit Lions.

In early March, it was reported that the Lions were very much “in like” with Watkins, but the possibility of moving up for him seemed to diminish once the team signed wide receiver Golden Tate in the opening days of free agency. But still the reports won’t die that the Lions are very much smitten with Watkins and have started to pick up some steam in recent weeks following some workouts with the team.

Jeanna Thomas has the chance to redo the Falcons 2011 draft class. Like Jeanna, I too was a very vocal critic of punter Matt Bosher early on but have since pulled a complete 180.

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If you missed these stories on FalcFans.com, please check them out:

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