The Atlanta Falcons made the earlier signings of linebackers Brooks Reed and Justin Durant official this evening, but also announced that they re-signed running back Antone Smith and signed St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Mike Person. Both Smith and Person became unrestricted free agents Tuesday afternoon.
Smith will be returning to the Falcons for his eighth season with the team, originally joining the team’s practice squad in 2009. Smith, 29, entered the league that same year as an undrafted free agent out of Florida State with the Detroit Lions, bouncing around with the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans before settling with the Falcons by year’s end.
Smith made the Falcons roster in 2010 and would appear mostly on special teams over the next three seasons. Over that span, he played in 34 games, receiving only one carry for minus-three yards on offense. But he started to emerge as a potent, but limited offensive threat in 2013. On just a combined seven offensive touches (five rush attempts, two receptions), Smith gained 155 total yards and scored twice. He saw increased opportunities in 2014, producing 144 yards and two touchdowns on 23 rushing attempts and catching 13 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns in 10 appearances. Smith finished the year on injured reserve after suffering a broken leg while covering a punt in Week 11. The past two seasons, Smith has led the Falcons in special teams tackles, combining for 23 stops over that span.
Person, 26, is a fifth-year player that was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh-round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He saw no action in his rookie season and was then cut by the 49ers at the end of his second training camp. He was briefly with the Indianapolis Colts before landing on the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad. He was promoted to the Seahawks’ active roster for the final eight games of 2012, but was inactive in each. Person began the 2013 season with the Seahawks, but was cut after seeing brief action on special teams in Week 1. He was picked up by the Rams and inactive for the final 14 games of the year. He managed to appear in all 16 games with the Rams in 2014, playing predominantly on special teams. But he did get reps mostly at left guard as a mid-game injury replacement in Weeks 8, 13 and 17 this past season.
Person played mostly right tackle at Montana State, starting 42 career games. He will likely add depth at guard for the Falcons after the team cut left guard Justin Blalock earlier this offseason. His experience in Seattle means that he’s well-versed in the zone-blocking scheme that the Falcons are installing under new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and offensive line coach Chris Morgan.