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Falcons sign Edwards

July 29th, 2011 1 comment
ICON SMI

Ray Edwards

FOX Sports Jay Glazer tweets that the Falcons have agreed to a five-year deal with Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards. Terms of the deal have to be disclosed. Conflicting reports over the past several weeks surrounded whether the Falcons were interested in signing Edwards. They had been linked to him since the draft, but in recent weeks, NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora and the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter cited league sources that indicated the Falcons interest had cooled on Edwards. It was also reportedthat the Falcons were keen on signing free agents Charles Johnson and Jason Babin, but likely the Falcons attention turned to Edwards when they quickly were snatched up after free agency commenced Tuesday.

Edwards played left defensive end for the Minnesota Vikings, and likely will be asked to do the same, at least initially in Atlanta. He’ll likely replace Kroy Biermann in the starting lineup. The team cut one left end this morning by releasing Jamaal Anderson. It’s possible that Anderson could return to the team later at a cheaper price, although Edwards signing potentially makes that move moot.

Edwards, 26, has started for the Vikings the past four seasons. He is coming off a pair of seasons with 8 and 8.5 sacks, respectively, after 2 five sack seasons.

UPDATE: ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweets the terms of the deal: five-years, $30 million, with $11 million guaranteed.

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Falcons cut Anderson and Jenkins

July 29th, 2011 Comments off
ICON SMI

Jamaal Anderson

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reportsthat the Falcons have parted ways with two former first round picks: wide receiver Michael Jenkins and defensive end Jamaal Anderson.

Jenkins was the team’s top pick in the 2004 draft and started 5 of the 7 years he was a Falcon, combining to catch 276 passes and 20 touchdowns. Jenkins, widely considered a disappointment due to the fact that he never had a game where he had 100 or more receiving yards had been a serviceable starter for the team since Mike Smith took over in 2008.

Anderson was the top pick in 2007, coming to the team with big expectations as a replacement for long-time Falcons end Patrick Kerney. But Anderson never lived up to that potential, and struggled to produce as a pass rusher. In recent seasons, he started to find a niche as a role player and run defender. Anderson started the first three seasons he was a Falcon, but combined for only 2.5 sacks. This past year, as a role player, he recorded 2 sacks, despite only starting 3 games.

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Camp Battles 2011: Defensive Line

July 14th, 2011 Comments off

As with some other positions, free agency could offer a significant shake up to this unit if the Falcons pursue a veteran free agent on the open market. But recent reports put a damper on that possibility.

If the Falcons do spend money to go out and get a top-notch free agent such as Charles Johnson or Ray Edwards, then you can pencil in that player to be the starting left end. If not, then Kroy Biermann should be expected back for another year. While Biermann disappointed many with his less than stellar production last year (only 3 sacks), one gets the feeling that the Falcons brass aren’t as down on him as many in the fan base. John Abraham is locked in at right end.

Regardless of whether the Falcons make moves in free agency, the bulk of the competition on the outside will involve several players fighting for depth spots.

If the Falcons do nothing in free agency, it probably makes the odds that Jamaal Anderson returns for fifth season in Atlanta much higher. Anderson is Biermann’s top backup at left end, and his prowess in defending the run helps depth and keeps Biermann fresher. If the Falcons were to add a free agent, it would make it tougher to bring Anderson back unless they moved Biermann primarily to the right side behind Abraham.

Behind Abraham, the team will likely have a three-way competition for who is his top backup. The incumbent is Chauncey Davis, who fills a similar niche as Anderson. But it is becoming increasingly redundant to have both players on the roster, and any addition made in free agency would likely push one of them off the roster. Davis probably has the least firm footing  between the two.

Pushing Davis will be Lawrence Sidbury and rookie Cliff Matthews. Matthews is probably on the outside looking in. His small stature (257 pounds) and undeveloped technique would make him a longshot to beat out either Davis or Sidbury for a roster spot. In recent seasons, the Falcons have carried five defensive ends on the regular season roster, and being that fifth guy might be Matthews best chances to make the team. But more than likely, as has been the case the past two seasons, that player will be inactive most weeks and required to play special teams when he does suit up, making him more of a body than a contributor in 2011.

That leaves Sidbury possibly out of the mix. After a promising preseason last summer, Sidbury proceeded to ride the pine almost the entire 2010 season, souring many on whether or not the Falcons are optimistic about his future. Sidbury offers more pass rush potential than Davis, but he needs to prove that he can also add value on run downs if he expects to unseat an established player like Davis.

More than likely, Davis and Sidbury will be competing for one roster spot, while Matthews may land the fifth spot dependent on how strong a summer he has. Otherwise, he could be headed to the practice squad. Any addition in free agency, will make it that much harder for Davis or Sidbury to remain.

Inside, the Falcons also will have their share of competition. Like Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux is not going anywhere. But the team is likely to have an open competition for the starting spot beside him. The incumbent is second-year pro Corey Peters, but he should be pushed by third-year man Peria Jerry.  The team likely would prefer Jerry to be the starter to confirm his higher draft status, but Peters certainly isn’t expected to roll over and give up his job without a fight.

Jerry is going to have to show the coaching staff that his knee is 100% and remain healthy throughout the summer. Jerry offers greater pass rush potential than Peters due to superior power and quickness, but has had limited opportunities to display his run-stopping abilities in the past. That will be an important element to that competition. Peters struggled throughout most of his rookie season but came on towards the end of the year. If he picks up where he left off, he’ll be difficult to unseat since he represents a potentially better option to play on those first and second downs against the run.

Also on the roster will be Vance Walker and Trey Lewis. Thomas Johnson is a free agent and probably not expected to return. Walker is the likelier of the pair to make the roster. Lewis started the season opener due to a suspended Jonathan Babineaux a year ago, but then never suited up after that point. His 316 pounds make him the heaviest defender on the team, he has struggled to defend the run in recent seasons. That is something of a strength of Walker, who has been a valuable run stuffer over the past two seasons. But it should be noted that Lewis did seem to outperform Walker during last summer’s camp. So Walker is going to need to have a stronger summer than he did a year ago, despite having a much better body of work during the regular season.

Also on the roster is end Emmanuel Stephens, who flashed quickness off the edge last summer. He still should be a candidate for the practice squad, although if the Falcons put Matthews there it will be tougher. But another strong summer and he’ll definitely be in the mix. If the Falcons don’t add a veteran free agent at this position, they still should opt to fill out their depth chart with some undrafted rookies to bolster competition at either end or tackle, particularly the latter.

Week 14 Stock Report

December 9th, 2010 Comments off

More looks at which Falcon players have raised or lowered their play in recent games.

Stock Up

Jonathan Babineaux – After a slow start this season, Babineaux’s play has picked up to his usual standards in recent weeks. He’s played well this season and has made his presence and impact known throughout the year but he has not played at the consistently high level he played for most of last season. Recent games have indicated he might be back.

Brent Grimes & Dunta Robinson
– Both Grimes and Robinson had strong games against the Tampa Bay. Grimes is more notable because of his game-saving interception and an interception that was overturned. But Robinson also did his part and arguably had his best game in coverage since joining the Falcons. The Falcons pass defense has been one of their weaknesses throughout this season, but if Grimes and Robinson continue to play at a similarly high level it may wind up being a strength as the games start to get more dire come January.

Stock Down

Jamaal Anderson – After a relatively strong first half of the season, Anderson’s play has tailed off in recent weeks. He’s been practically invisible for much of the past month. Early in the season, he was making his presence known as a run stopper and an occasional pass rusher on his limited opportunities there, but in recent weeks his ability as a run stopper have been on the decline. And without it, there is not much else with Anderson.

Justin Peelle – While Peelle has may his presence known in the passing game since his return, his blocking seems to be much more iffy. The gap between the veteran Peelle and upstart Palmer seems to be have been closed. Before the argument would have been that Peelle is the more reliable blocker, but that reliability has not been apparent in recent games. And if it doesn’t return before the year is out, it may never do so because the Falcons might consider going with Palmer as the primary backup to be not so significant a roll of the dice as it may have appeared to be earlier in the season.

Scouting Report: Jamaal Anderson

August 13th, 2010 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Jamaal Anderson

Now it’s time to break down a defensive lineman, starting with perhaps the Falcons most infamous player: Jamaal Anderson

Pros: Has good size and has the ability to get leverage vs. the run. Can make the stop at the point of attack. Shows some burst upfield, to press the pocket and make plays in the backfield. Showed more maturity and intensity as the 2009 season wore on. Has a nice motor. Can line up inside or outside. Does his best in the former when he plays in the 3-technique over the guard’s outside shoulder, which allows him to use his quickness better.  When playing end, does a decent job holding the edge.

Cons: Doesn’t have good short-area burst or quickness to close on the ball and make plays as a pass rusher. Lacks flexibility, so he can whiff on some stops when he does manage to get penetration. Is lacking in terms of hand use and technique. Has trouble disengaging from blockers as a pass rusher and shows very few moves. Tends to rely on his quickness, which isn’t great. Too often gets a poor jump off the snap. That also causes him to lose some battles vs. the run and get pushed off the ball.

2010 Outlook: Anderson is a valuable member of the Falcons rotation because he can play the run, as well as take reps inside on. He has disappointed as a high first round draft pick, and isn’t likely to live up to those expectations. But he has the ability to prove himself a key role player in the Falcons front rotation.

Read more…

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Jamaal Anderson: Still A Necessary Commodity

August 1st, 2010 Comments off
Icon Sports Media, Inc.

Jamaal Anderson

Jamaal Anderson is the one Falcon player that fans love to hate. But Anderson does have value, and Mike Smith isn’t crazy for saying so.

It’s easy to understand why Falcon fans are disappointed with Anderson. He has recorded 2.5 sacks in 3 seasons as a starter, major underachievement for a player that was drafted in 2007 with the expectation that he would replace Patrick Kerney, one of the top pass rushers in Falcons history.

People tend to forget that 45% of the plays called in the NFL are running plays, so the fact that Anderson is lacking as a pass rusher doesn’t equate his value to zilch. Anderson is arguably the best run defender on the team at defensive end.

And the team’s two most proven pass rushers: John Abraham and Kroy Biermann aren’t exactly known for the ability to hold up against the run. So the Falcons only benefit from having Anderson as well as Chauncey Davis manning most of the snaps on run downs. That way, Abraham and Biermann can focus on what they do best: rush the passer. Both players have a tendency to wear down as the season goes on. Abraham is no stranger to injuries, and Biermann’s production declined sharply as the season wore on. If the Falcons are hoping to make a deep playoff run, they are going to need their best pass rushers playing well and a lot down the stretch. So the more reps that can be saved for them in September and October should pay off in December and hopefully January.

Anderson also adds value because of his ability to play inside. And with Peria Jerry coming back from injury, the Falcons could use that insurance early in the season. The Falcons are also bringing along Corey Peters. And while Peters can contribute this season as a rookie, it doesn’t seem likely that he’ll hit the ground running when the regular season begins. Folks should recall that Vance Walker who played as a rookie didn’t make many contributions until the middle of the season. One probably shouldn’t expect a whole lot more from Peters. Coupled with the possibility that Jerry may not be 100% by September, the Falcons mayneed that extra depth that Anderson provides early in the season.

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Camp Battles ’10: Defensive Line

July 22nd, 2010 Comments off

The defensive line is arguably one of the deepest positions on the team’s roster in terms of experience. Largely due to the fact that the team employs a heavy rotation on most Sundays last season.

The return of Peria Jerry could cause a minor shakeup here. His injury last season caused the team to start using Jamaal Anderson more as an interior player. But if he has a healthy return, then Anderson’s versatility is less valued. Couple that with the possibility that Anderson could lose his starting left end spot to Kroy Biermann this summer via competition, and his hold on a roster spot is tenuous.

We do know that John Abraham, Jonathan Babineaux, Kroy Biermann, and Peria Jerry seem to be locks to make the roster. But the guys that fill the remaining four or five slots remains to be seen. Lawrence Sidbury and Corey Peters are likely to be two of those players. How strong a summer Sidbury has could go a long way to how much success the team’s pass rush has in 2010. Peters’ status as a draft pick gives him good odds to making the final roster. But he’s not a lock since Thomas Johnson, Vance Walker, and Dan Klecko may also be breathing down his neck. Of that group, Walker probably stands the best chance to earn the top reserve defensive tackle spot. His play improved as last season wore on coupled with his youth gives him the best long-term potential of any backup tackle besides Peters.

Chauncey Davis is a steady performer on running downs, but the team may find it hard to justify keeping him around if Anderson is kept, and Sidbury improves. But his value as a run defender could become more pronounced if Biermann and Sidbury don’t show enough improvement in that area to be every down players.

Trey Lewis will also be in the mix inside. But he struggled throughout the 2009 season, and unless he has a major resurgence and shows the skill and potential he flashed in 2007, he seems like a roster long shot. Rajon Henley and Emmanuel Stephens are undrafted ends who can earn a practice squad position if they can show some burst and speed off the edge as pass rushers.

Anderson and Peterson get raises

April 5th, 2010 Comments off

According to Brian McIntyre of Mac’s Football Blog, two Falcon players will see their base salaries increase this year due to incentive clauses in their contract. Jamaal Anderson will see his base salary increase by $2 million to $3.1625 million, and Mike Peterson will get a $600,000 raise to have a base salary of $3.1 million.

Peterson is entering the final deal of the two-year contract he signed with the Falcons last off-season. Anderson is signed through 2012, although the final year of his rookie deal is voidable.

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Let’s make a deal

October 19th, 2009 Comments off

The minute I mention the word trade, I’m sure it’s only going to take a few seconds before Glenn Dorsey’s name pops into the head of someone out there. Why? Truth be told, the majority of Falcon fans wanted the team to draft him back in 2008 instead of Matt Ryan, and the notion that the team can still land their “franchise” defensive player along with their franchise quarterback is appealing to many.

There are rumors out there that Dorsey (along with every other Chief not named Matt Cassel) is on the block. This past summer, it looked like the Chiefs would be willing to move to Dorsey for next to nothing in order to get some return on their investment, but I don’t think that is the case anymore. Dorsey is the Chiefs best end as of today and is coming off a strong seven-tackle performance vs. the Redskins. Dorsey has 22 tackles on the season. For comparison, their other starter and first round pick Tyson Jackson has only five. The disparity isn’t that much different between that of John Abraham and Jamaal Anderson on our own roster. And when put in those terms, I don’t believe the Chiefs will simply give Dorsey away for anything less than a second round pick.

The Falcons are probably not in a position to really make any trades. The team has already dealt away next year’s second round pick. And while I think the team will get compensated with some early picks for next year’s draft because of our free agent losses this past off-season, it’s not the same. Even with an extra third and/or fourth rounder, the team has to be weary about falling into the trap that Rich McKay did in 2006 and start dealing all their draft picks away for veteran players to get them over the hump. The crappiness of the ’06 draft is one of the reasons why the team was so bad when Dimitroff took over. Draft picks are precious, particularly those from the first few rounds.

Which is why if the Falcons are looking to make any moves on this trade deadline, they are probably best trying to offer player for player deals instead of player for pick deals. Which then begs the question of which current Falcon players offer the most trade value.

Despite improved performances this year and especially the past two games, the Falcons could still look to deal Jamaal Anderson if they think they can get good value for him.

The only other players on the roster that the Falcons could afford to move and get something in return is either of the two reserve backs: Norwood and Snelling.  They might try to flip one of the reserve corners: Jackson or Hill, but with Brian Williams injury status from last night up in the air, that probably isn’t a smart move.

I think there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that we make a deal before tomorrow night’s trade deadline. And if the Falcons were, I think the best move might be to move Norwood for a cornerback, particularly if the early prognosis on Brian Williams injury isn’t too promising. If we get lucky, maybe the Texans GM Rick Smith gets drunk tonight and decides to deal us Dunta Robinson for Norwood straight up. A deal that packages Anderson and Norwood for Dorsey is a popular one on the forums is probably the most realistic (if you can use that term when speculating on Falcon trades). Dorsey is a heck of a talent, but is he really as promising as he looked a year and a half ago? Are we sure that latent Top 5 potential is still there and will emerge once he arrives in Atlanta? Or are we simply ignoring the facts that Dorsey has been a fairly average player since he’s entered the league under some false hope that Mike Smith and Thomas Dimitroff can turn everything to gold. Maybe we were just simply all wrong that Dorsey was as good a talent as we thought he was in April 2008.

Who knows? I’m sure Thomas Dimitroff has an idea. And it’s why he gets paid millions of dollars (at least I hope he does because if he doesn’t, he deserves a raise), and I just run a website.

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Early Camp Stock Exchange

August 11th, 2009 Comments off

It’s been a little more than a week of camp, and here’s a brief recap of the players that have raised (or lowered) their stock in that time, based upon published reports.

STOCK UP

Thomas DeCoud – Although DeCoud may win the starting gig by default due to an injury to William Moore that will likely keep him out for the rest of the summer, it’s quite possible he would have won the job outright. Most observers have come away praising DeCoud for his ballhawking skills so far this summer.

Brent Grimes – By my own assessment, Grimes entered camp seemingly on the outside looking in. But at this point, he seems to be the early favorite to win the job opposite Chris Houston. Although we should point out that Grimes was impressive in camp last summer, but his play during the regular season was less than stellar. But his stock is also boosted by the fact that he might be the early favorite to replace Harry Douglas as the team’s punt returner with strong showings in preseason games.

Vance Walker – Walker got some early praise from Mike Smith in the opening days of camp. While Walker has no shot of becoming a starter, if he keeps it up, he should certainly land a roster spot and help the team’s rotation.

STOCK DOWN

Jamaal Anderson – Fairly or unfairly, Anderson has a bulls-eye upon him this summer as one of the players that not only Falcon fans, but pundits nationwide are looking to see if he steps up. And in his case, no news isn’t good news. While we’re not saying Anderson is behind in his battle with Chauncey Davis, the fact that he hasn’t pulled ahead significantly by this point doesn’t bode particularly well for him.

Chevis Jackson – Like Anderson, Jackson is fighting for a starting spot, and thus far there have been few reports citing his strong play early in camp. It’s conceivable that if he doesn’t pick it up he could fall all the way to fourth on the depth chart after entering camp as the expected starter.

Roddy White – You won’t count us as one of the Falcon fans that were upset by Roddy’s holdout. But his rep was shaken in the eyes of many, and he’ll have to use the remaining weeks to earn it back. We have little doubt he will.