The Atlanta Falcons signed free agent linebacker Thomas Howard today to replace linebacker Jamar Chaney, who the team cut. They also signed safety Sean Baker to the practice squad to replace wide receiver Darius Johnson, who was promoted to the active roster on Saturday. Chaney was first signed by the team in September after the injury to linebacker Sean Weatherspoon that landed him on the short-term injured reserve.
Howard went unsigned as a free agent this past summer, as he was recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered at the outset of the 2012 season with the Cincinnati Bengals. Howard first joined the Bengals following the lockout in 2011 after five seasons with the Oakland Raiders, including four as a starter at weakside linebacker. Howard was originally drafted in the second round by the Raiders out of Texas Tech in 2006. For his career, he has started 78 games and recorded 492 tackles, 6 sacks, 7 interceptions, and 6 forced fumbles. His father, Thomas Howard Sr., played nine seasons in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs (1977-83) and St. Louis Cardinals (1984-85).
Baker is a first-year safety that was originally an undrafted free agent out of Ball State with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. He was cut at the end of camp, but later re-signed at the end of the season to the Bucs’ practice squad. He spent this past summer in Tampa Bay’s training camp before getting released again. He was a four-year starter at Ball State and a two-time All-MAC honoree. He finished his career as the school’s all-time career interception leader with 18. Also added 338 career tackles, 39 pass breakups, 6 forced fumbles, and 3 defensive touchdowns.
The Falcons announced the signings of free agent linebackers Omar Gaither and Jamar Chaney to the roster today. The team also officially announced the previously reported signing of linebacker Chase Thomas to the practice squad, as he will replace fullback Patrick DiMarco, who was promoted to the active roster.
Gaither and Chaney are both former Philadelphia Eagles, having both played for the team in 2010. After that season, Gaither signed with the Carolina Panthers to help replace Thomas Davis at outside linebacker. In 2012, he was signed mid-season by the Oakland Raiders to replace injured middle linebacker Travis Goethel. Over the course of his career, Gaither has started 44 career games at all three linebacker positions, most of which came during his days in Philadelphia. Originally a fifth round draft pick out of Tennessee for the Eagles in 2006, he started the final five games of his rookie season at weakside linebacker. He moved to middle linebacker in 2007, where he started every game and put up a career-high 102 tackles. In 2008, he moved back to the weakside, starting 10 games. Over the next two seasons, he started a total of five games as a reserve middle linebacker behind Stewart Bradley before Chaney’s emergence late in 2010 helped pushed him out the door. Gaither was cut by the Raiders this past summer. Last season with the Raiders, he totaled 14 tackles in seven appearances at middle linebacker.
Chaney was a seventh round pick by the Eagles in 2010. He started the final two games of his rookie season at middle linebacker as a replacement for Bradley. He started every game the following year, logging 92 tackles and 3 interceptions. He moved to weakside linebacker in 2012, where he started five games, mainly as a replacement for an injured Akeem Jordan. He finished the year with 24 tackles. He was cut by the Eagles this past summer.
Both players add much-needed depth at the linebacker position where weakside starter Sean Weatherspoon was placed on short-term injured reserve earlier today. The team also lost defensive end/linebacker Kroy Biermann for the year due to a torn Achilles, giving the team only four healthy linebackers on their active roster.
DiMarco will help fill the void left by injured fullback Bradie Ewing, who is also out for the year with a separated shoulder. DiMarco started for the Falcons at fullback in the first two preseason contests this summer in replacement of an injured Ewing.