Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 3/16

March 16th, 2014 Comments off
AJ McCarron has A-plus workout at Alabama’s pro day

Kevin Pierre-Louis at the Combine

This week there was not as much news down the pipeline involving pro days due to the opening of free agency garnering most of the attention. But Atlanta Falcons representatives were spotted at a number of pro days from this past week.

Quarterback Matt Ryan made an appearance at his alma mater, Boston College’s pro day on Wednesday along with 29 NFL teams, which likely included the Falcons. They were there to witness running back Andre Williams, Boston College’s best prospect, try to improve his 40 time. Williams clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.56 seconds at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month, but ran three times at his pro day with times of 4.54, 4.43 and 4.57 seconds.

Reports indicate that Boston College linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is scheduled for a workout with the Falcons at some point. Pierre-Louis was invited to the Combine and is projected to be a late-round pick. At his pro day, he stood pat on his Combine numbers, which were impressive due to a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, 28 bench reps of 225 pounds, 39-inch vertical jump, 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump and 6.92-second three-cone drill.

***

All 32 NFL teams were at Oklahoma State’s pro day on Thursday. There they got to see top cornerback Justin Gilbert stand on most of his Combine numbers, but he did run a 6.91-second three-cone drill.

Quarterback Clint Chelf has an upcoming workout with the Falcons according to reports.

Chelf began this past season as the starter for Oklahoma State, but was quickly pulled in the season-opener. He would regain the job and start the final seven games, leading the Cowboys to a 5-2 record to finish the year. He led the team with 2,173 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 56.4 percent of his passes.

Read more…

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , , ,

Breaking Down Joe Hawley and His Contract

March 14th, 2014 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Hawley

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure already posted the numbers of the new deal that center Joe Hawley signed with the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday. However, I’m going to talk about what those numbers really mean from a roster standpoint.

Here’s a basic overview of what Hawley got from the Falcons:

Contract: two years, $6 million with an additional $500,000 available through incentives
Guarantees: $3 million ($2 million signing bonus and $1 million base salary in 2014)

Cap Hits:

2014: $2 million ($1 million base salary + $1 million bonus proration)
2015: $4 million ($3 million base salary + $1 million bonus proration)

Pay close attention to those cap hits, particularly Hawley’s 2015 number. That’s a fairly high number for a center. Comparing that to Todd McClure, who in the final year (2011) of his extension signed in 2006 counted just $2.3 million against the cap. It’s also worth noting that the 2015 cap hit for Hawley is currently tied with Jason Kelce for the 10th highest at the position. Kelce just signed a lucrative six-year contract extension.

The point is that Hawley won’t be allowed to make that sort of money as a backup or even an underwhelming starter. Hawley not only will need to win the starting center spot in any potential competition with Peter Konz this summer, but he’ll have to play at a level in 2014 where there is zero doubt that he deserves the same role in 2015.

Read more…

Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Falcons Officially Cut Gonzalez and DeCoud

March 13th, 2014 Comments off

Not only did the team make several new additions to the roster but the Atlanta Falcons also parted ways with some long-time veterans on Tuesday to start free agency. The team announced that tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Thomas DeCoud were officially released, moves that were long expected to be made.

Gonzalez had announced his intentions to retire prior to last season and had made good on those plans this offseason when he was hired by CBS Sports to become an in-studio analyst for the network this fall. But because he had not yet filed his retirement papers, the Falcons were forced to cut him in lieu of paying him an option bonus this week.

DeCoud’s impending release had been reported two weeks ago due to a portion of his salary becoming guaranteed if he was on the roster as of March 15. DeCoud was drafted by the Falcons in the third round of the 2008 NFL Draft, and became a regular starter at free safety the following season. He managed to start 78 games over five seasons with the Falcons, collecting 14 interceptions. He earned a Pro Bowl bid in 2012 with a team-high six interceptions, which was also the second-most among safeties in the NFL that year. But DeCoud’s play took a notable dip last season. Premium website Pro Football Focus rated him as the 83rd best safety in the league last season out of 86 players graded.

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Falcons Load Up Lines to Open Free Agency

March 13th, 2014 Comments off
Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

Paul Soliai

The official opening of free agency started with a bang for the Atlanta Falcons who brought in three additions and re-signed another to bolster their offensive and defensive lines. The Falcons added offensive guard Jon Asamoah and defensive end Tyson Jackson, both formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, along with ex-Miami Dolphin defensive tackle Paul Soliai,  and re-signed center Joe Hawley.

The influence of new assistant general manager Scott Pioli was apparent with the team’s decision to sign Asamoah and Jackson. They were both drafted by Pioli during his time in Kansas City as general manager.

Asamoah signed a five-year contract worth $22.5 million, and had been rumored to be a favored target by the Falcons during the “legal tampering” period prior to Tuesday’s start of free agency. He served as the Chiefs starting right guard for most of the past three seasons, starting a combined 41 games, and will presumably play the same role in Atlanta.

Jackson was Pioli’s first-ever draft selection in Kansas City, originally selected as the third overall selection in 2009. The underwhelming start of his career earned him the “bust” label, but his improved play this past season allowed him to shed that distinction. Jackson started 45 games over five seasons with the Chiefs, with improved production the past two years as he combined for 77 tackles and seven sacks. He signed a five-year deal worth $25 million and will likely play defensive end, replacing free agent Peria Jerry in the starting lineup.

Rather than Pioli, Soliai owes his Falcon benefactor to be defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Soliai and Nolan along with current defensive line coach Bryan Cox spent time together in Miami in 2010-11. He was another player that was linked to the Falcons prior to signing with the team. He spent seven seasons in Miami, starting the past four at nose tackle in their predominantly 3-4 defense. Soliai landed a five-year contract worth $33 million.

Hawley joins Jonathan Babineaux, Mike Johnson and Corey Peters as current Falcons that were re-signed. He signed a two-year deal worth $6 million to stay with the team. Hawley started the final seven games at center last year as a replacement for an underachieving Peter Konz.

 

Falcons Re-Sign Babineaux

March 11th, 2014 Comments off

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post cites sources that indicate the Atlanta Falcons are “extremely close” to agreeing on a three-year contract with free agent defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux.

UPDATE: Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Falcons have agreed to terms with Babineaux on a three-year deal. The Falcons have now confirmed it.

Babineaux was originally a second-round pick of the Falcons in 2005 and became a regular starter for the team in the second half of the 2007 season after the release of Grady Jackson. He has not relinquished the job since, logging 108 starts over the course of his nine-year career in Atlanta. He has collected 23.5 sacks during his career, but is coming off a 2013 campaign where he had just one sack and 42 tackles. Babineaux will turn 33 in October.

If re-signed it will mark the third contract that Babineaux has earned with the Falcons. His second contract occurred in November 2008 when his initial rookie contract was on the verge of expiring. If the Falcons are successful in signing Babineaux before today’s 4 p.m. start for the new league year, it will mean that Babineaux will have never tested free agency during his NFL career, a sign of his perceived high value by the Falcons.

Categories: News Tags: ,

Falcons Bring Back Mike Johnson For One More Year

March 10th, 2014 Comments off

The Atlanta Falcons announced today that guard Mike Johnson had agreed to a one-year extension. Johnson’s rookie contract had expired at the end of the 2013 season and he was set to hit unrestricted free agency tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. Eastern. Johnson missed all of the 2013 season with a dislocated ankle and broken leg that he suffered early in training camp. Terms of his deal were undisclosed.

Johnson was poised to start at right tackle this past season until he was sidelined with the injury. He was initially a third-round draft pick by the Falcons in 2010 out of Alabama and was slated to play guard. He was inactive for every game as a rookie and spent the bulk of the 2011 season on injured reserve. He then moved to right tackle in 2012, and spent that season playing primarily as the team’s sixth offensive lineman and blocking tight end. In four seasons, Johnson has logged just one start and 18 total appearances. His return adds valuable depth and a potential competitor for a starting position at right guard or right tackle for the Falcons.

Categories: News Tags: ,

Report: Falcons ‘Aggressively Pursuing’ Paul Soliai

March 10th, 2014 Comments off

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports tweeted today that the Atlanta Falcons are “very aggressively pursuing” Miami Dolphins nose tackle Paul Soliai. La Canfora’s report comes in regard to today’s earlier news of defensive assistant Mark Collins’ promotion which has prompted the belief that Falcons will making a switch to the 3-4 as their base defense.

Soliai played under Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan for the two years they shared together in Miami (2010-11) before the latter’s arrival in Atlanta. Soliai just turned 30 at the end of this past season, his seventh in Miami. He has served as a regular starter since Nolan’s arrival in 2010, combining for 129 tackles and 4.5 sacks over that span. He served as a Pro Bowl injury replacement in 2012.

Soliai initially was drafted by the Dolphins in the fourth round in 2007 and was a backup to Jason Ferguson for the early part of his career.

Categories: News Tags: , ,

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 59 “That Bad Taste In Your Mouth”

March 10th, 2014 Comments off

Aaron is back with me to discuss free agency! Allen gives his long-awaited thoughts on the Falcons cuts made in the month of February, which includes a brief history lesson on the team’s free agent history. Later, we get into a discussion on which positions of need and possible targets the Falcons could target when free agency kicks off. During the course of our debate, we bring up Osi Umenyiora’s possible pay cut, Corey Peters and nose tackles, Robert McClain’s restricted free agent status, T.J. Ward’s ability, Champ Bailey’s value, and what are the differences between Lamarr Houston, Michael Bennett and Michael Johnson. In the end, we discuss how Antone Smith will quickly replace Jason Snelling as the team’s most underutilized player.

Episode 59: That Bad Taste In Your Mouth [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons Promote Collins to Outside Linebackers Coach

March 10th, 2014 Comments off

Picking up on the previous report that the Atlanta Falcons had hired a brand new defensive assistant in Andrew Thacker, Alex Marvez of FOX Sports reports that the team is promoting current defensive assistant Mark Collins to outside linebackers coach.

Collins first joined the Falcons in 2010, spending the bulk of his time assisting defensive line coach Ray Hamilton. Prior to his time in Atlanta, Collins spent several years as an assistant at various colleges. He worked under Falcons previous defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder at Georgia Southern in 2006. He spent two years following that as a graduate assistant at Georgia, before coaching safeties at Louisiana-Monroe. He was then hired by The Citadel as that team’s defensive coordinator before changing his mind and joining the Falcons.

Collins’ past has seen him working with several different elements of defenses, having spent time coaching linebackers, defensive linemen, safeties and special teams during his decade of coaching in the college ranks. Collins went to East Tennessee State and upon graduation in 1999 began his coaching career as a defensive assistant.

Categories: News Tags:

Takeaways from Last Week – March 10, 2014

March 10th, 2014 Comments off
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Asamoah

This weekend the NFL instituted it’s second “legal tampering” signing period, allowing free agents to begin negotiating with prospective teams before the official free agency period starts on Tuesday afternoon, March 11.

Already the Atlanta Falcons have been linked to a number of potential free agents, including guard Jon Asamoah, safety Mike Mitchell, and cornerback Champ Bailey.

But the Asamoah linkage seems strongest with multiple outside sources indicating that the Falcons interest in Asamoah is high.

While I like Asamoah quite a bit as a player, I’m not sure that he is a good fit in Atlanta. But apparently it seems like I’m in the minority in that regards.

As for Caplan’s assessment, I would have to respectfully disagree. Asamoah is a player that ideally fits in a zone-heavy blocking scheme because he’s very athletic, but not overly powerful.

The Falcons have incorporated more zone-blocking into their ground attack under offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter the past two years, but still primarily a man-blocking team.

The Falcons have made an effort to emphasize size with their line acquisitions in recent years, evidenced by additions like Terren Jones, Lamar Holmes, Phillipkeith Manley and Peter Konz the past few years since Koetter joined the team. If you’re trying to be an offense that features a lot of zone-blocking, targeting plus-sized linemen, many of whom weigh in excess of 330 pounds is largely counterintuitive.

And the lines that Mike Tice and Wade Harman coached in Chicago and Baltimore respectively emphasized size and/or man-blocking.

Could the team’s interest in Asamoah suggest a shift in their blocking? Perhaps, but more than likely the answer is no.

Read more…