The Falcons announced several roster moves today involving special teams. The team released kicker Jason Elam and long snapper Bryan Pittman today, and replaced them with kicker Matt Bryant and long snapper Joe Zelenka.
Elam was in the midst of the worst season ever in his fifteen seasons in the NFL. He hit on 12 of 19 field goals this year (69.2%). Elam missed a field goal in each of the last three games. The team signed Pittman earlier this month as an injury replacement for snapper Mike Schneck.
Bryant’s last NFL experience with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season where he made a career-high 32 of 38 field goals. Bryant played with the Buccaneers since 2005. He lost his job to Mike Nugent this past summer and signed with the Florida Tuskers in the upstart UFL. He made 11 of 14 field goals and all 23 of his extra points. For his career, Bryant had made 138 of 168 field goals (82.1%). He is famous for making a 62-yard game-winning kick vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in 2006, and connected on 3 field goals in a match vs. the Green Bay Packers in 2008 the day after his son’s funeral.
Zelenka played with the Jacksonville Jaguars last season, and had been a member of that team since 2001. He’s a nine-year veteran of this league
Running back Michael Turner was the only Falcon player to be named to the Associated Press’s annual All-Pro team. Turner came in second place among voting at the running back position, garner 40 votes behind Adrian Peterson’s 45 votes.
Several other Falcons received votes however. John Abraham had 17 votes, coming in fourth place among defensive ends. Roddy White had four votes and was sixth in the voting at wide receiver. Fullback Ovie Mughelli, guard Harvey Dahl, center Todd McClure, and kicker Jason Elam eached garnered a single vote at their respective positions.
NFL.com’s Adam Schefter reports that the Falcons have signed Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam to a four-year deal worth $9 million. Included in the deal is $3.3 million in guaranteed signing bonus, and Elam will make $5.11 million in the first two years of the deal.
According to the Denver Post, the Broncos had offered Elam a three-year deal worth $7 million with guaranteed money of $2.3 million. Previous reports indicated that Elam was given the Broncos a chance to match the Falcons offer, but they did not revise their offer.
Last season, Elam made four walkoff game-winning field goals, the most since the league merger in 1970. He has scored 100 or more points in fifteen straight years, ever since entering the league as a third round pick in 1993 with the Broncos. The three-time Pro Bowler is fifth all-time with 395 field goals made and sixth with 1,786 points. He has made 80.6% of his career field goal attempts. He had a career high in 2006, connecting on 93.1% of his 29 field goal attempts. He is tied for the league record with a 63-yard field goal.
Elam attended Brookwood High in nearby Snellville, GA, so his signing with the Falcons is a homecoming of sorts. Elam will replace 47-year old Morten Andersen, who has kicked for the Falcons the past two seasons. Elam is ten years younger than Andersen.
The Denver Post reports that Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam is negotiating a contract with the Falcons. Elam came to Atlanta on Wednesday for a free agent visit, but stayed over Thursday where he began negotiating a contract. The AJC also confirms that the Falcons are actively trying to sign Elam.
UPDATE: The Denver Post cites two NFL sources that say that the Falcons have offered Elam a more lucrative contract than the Broncos, but that Elam will give the Broncos a chance to “sweeten” their offer in order to retain him.
Eric Goodman of Denver’s FOX affiliate KDVR reports that Broncos kicker Jason Elam will meet with the Atlanta Falcons on March 19 and 20 for a free agent visit. It’s been reported previously that Elam would likely show interest in the Falcons if he did not re-sign with the Broncos.
The Rocky Mountain News reports that Denver Broncos kicker Jason Elam has scheduled free agent visits for next week. It has yet to be confirmed if the Falcons are one of those teams, but it seems likely considering they do not have a kicker currently on the roster and have previously been linked to Elam. The Falcons were in pursuit of free agent kicker Josh Brown before he decided to sign with the St. Louis Rams.
Elam despite becoming a free agent on February 29, has yet to visit any teams, having spent much of the past week on vacation in Israel.
Bill Williamson of the Denver Post writes that the Falcons could show interest in Jason Elam if or when he becomes available for free agency next week. Williamson also reports on rumors that the Falcons could be curious about a potential late round swap for current Broncos backup running back Mike Bell.
Williamson cites that Elam has familial ties to the state of Georgia as potential reasons why joining the Falcons could interest him. He will turn 38 in March, and has played the last 15 years with the Broncos. He tied the league record for longest field goal of 63 yards in 1998 and currently ranks 6th all-time on the all-time scoring list with 1,786 points. The Falcons are potentially interested in replacing 47-year old Morten Andersen, who is the current all-time leading scorer in NFL history with 2,544 points.
Bell fell on the depth chart this past year after a fairly strong showing as a rookie in 2006. That year he had 157 carries for 677 yards (4.3 avg) and 8 touchdowns along with 20 receptions. This past year, he appeared in only 5 games, rushing for 3 yards on 6 carries with 1 catch. He’ll turn 25 in April, and was an undrafted free agent in 2006 out of Arizona.