This award goes to the best non-rookie that was new to the Atlanta Falcons in 2014. The most obvious choice is guard Jon Asamoah, who earned slight consideration for the team’s offensive MVP. Asamoah also was my choice for this honor at midseason.
Frankly, Asamoah was the first good free-agent signing the Falcons have had in a very long time. You’d have to go all the way back to 2009 with linebacker Mike Peterson before you found a free-agent signing that worked in the team’s favor. And really, you’d have to go to the previous year when the team signed running back Michael Turner before you find anyone that came close to having the sort of first-year impact that Asamoah had.
While, I think I’d still give Turner the definite nod as the better move for the team, Asamoah wasn’t that far behind. He was clearly the team’s most consistent run blocker. When he was on the team’s radar this past offseason, I wasn’t sure if he was a great fit in the Falcons blocking scheme. Asamoah had shined as a Kansas City Chief over the previous four years due to their zone-heavy blocking scheme, which took full advantage of his athleticism and ability to block on the move.
Over the years the Falcons typically preferred man-blocking, which was not a strength of Asamoah’s. But new offensive line coaches Mike Tice and Wade Harman made the appropriate modifications, and involved a lot more pulling and asking their blockers to get out in space this past year. That allowed Asamoah to make a smooth and easy transition to Atlanta and made my skepticism over his signing look foolish.
Other players that were worthy of consideration were wide receiver/return specialist Devin Hester, safety Dwight Lowery and wide receiver Eric Weems. Both Hester and Lowery represented two more good free-agent additions, making this past offseason the best for the Falcons in that regard over the past seven seasons.