Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Grimes’

Takeaways from Last Week (March 11)

March 11th, 2013 Comments off
Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE

Health of Darrelle Revis’s knee is important to his trade value

Last week ended well for the Falcons as they were able to kick off the legal tampering period by re-signing two free agents. One of which, in William Moore, was their biggest priority of the off-season in terms of keeping.

Things also took a positive spin on Sunday where reports indicated that Tony Gonzalez is set to return. And while Moore was their biggest priority re-signing, Gonzalez is likely the biggest difference maker they could add or retain. I honestly struggle to see how the Falcons will contend for a title with Gonzalez’s presence in the offense. His presence on the inside and virtually unstoppability on third down work in perfect conjunction with the playmaking abilities of Julio Jones and Roddy White on the outside. Remove Gonzalez from the equation, and while the Falcons would still be difficult to defend, it’s not an insurmountable feat.

Besides Gonzalez, the thing that could potentially impact the Falcons’ offense the most is improving their running game. And that would likely take a really good running back to do that given the likelihood that there won’t be major changes to the offensive line in 2013. And given the current rumors that the Falcons might be pursuing Steven Jackson as their new starter doesn’t particularly excite me in regards to any major improvements the ground attack could make this year.

Now I could question the reliability of these so-called “sources close to Gonzalez,” but given these sources are saying things that fans like myself want to hear, I won’t.

Hopefully this week the Falcons will get even more good news since Sam Baker and Brent Grimes could be the next dominoes to fall.

With all the talk about Darrelle Revis being traded from the New York Jets, some of the talk has centered around his injury. Revis tore his ACL early last season, and the questions surrounding that injury have been cited by many experts as a major hurdle to any trade. Teams won’t be willing to give up the compensation likely to be required (at least one first round pick) without being 100% certain that the knee is healthy. Now obviously, there are ways around that. Before any trade can be finalized, the player must pass a physical. And if a team acquired Revis and had misgivings about his rehab, they could fail him and recoup their traded assets. But then throw in the probability that Revis will demand to be one of if not the highest paid defender in the league will deter a lot of folks. That’s a lot of money to spend on a corner, even one as good as Revis.

It’s why I’m going to ape what many of the talking heads are saying in that I don’t believe Revis will be traded between now and the draft in late April. There will be constant talk of it; rumors about teams contacting the Jets and where Revis’s best fits may lie. But I believe they will be nothing more than rumors and media-induced hype. The Jets are in New York after all, and there’s got to be something to talk about with them for the next six months. Last spring they had Tebow, this year it will be a Revis trade.

I think once we get into training camp, that’s when potential Revis trade talks might pick up in earnest. If he shows himself to be healthy during the preseason, and then gets off to a good start in September, then I think you’ll start to hear trade speculation heat up. A contender that has some struggles in coverage may be tempted to give up that first round pick for Revis at that point as a midseason boost to get over the hump. I do believe at that point, the Falcons could become a legitimate contender. But a lot of that will depend on the status of Brent Grimes, and the play of any other corners on the Falcons roster.

Read more…

Falcons FA Focus: Cornerback

March 8th, 2013 Comments off
Icon SMI

Brent Grimes

I know I should have posted this article over two weeks ago, but other projects distracted me. The Falcons released Dunta Robinson and now have an obvious opening at the cornerback position. The Falcons cut Robinson because of his high price tag and diminishing returns. While Robinson was able to blossom in some areas under Mike Nolan, becoming a highly valuable run defender and blitzer off the edge last year, he continued to struggle in coverage. Robinson just didn’t make enough plays in coverage, which likely means that the Falcons will want a corner with better ball skills to replace him. They have one potentially hitting the open market in Brent Grimes.

The first decision the Falcons have to make is whether or not they will re-sign him. The team is optimistic about Grimes’ return from his torn Achilles suffered on opening day last season. So it doesn’t sound like injury is going to deter them from making an offer. Whether Grimes returns really is going to come down to money. Grimes didn’t get the big contract he was seeking last year, and fresh off an Achilles tear is probably not poised to get one this year. Teams tend to get skittish about guaranteeing money when players wind up injured at the end of two consecutive years.

If the Falcons and Grimes don’t agree on a new deal, then the Falcons will have plenty of other options on the open market. While there aren’t a lot of top-level cornerbacks, there are plenty that are capable starters and role players.

Read more…

Falcons opt against franchise tag

March 4th, 2013 Comments off

There was some back and forth over the notion whether the Falcons were going to use the franchise tag on one of their prospective free agents. Well, today the team made the decision not to, as no Falcon players were among the eight players officially tagged by today’s deadline. Safety William Moore was the likeliest candidate to receive the tag. Instead, he could test the market if the team can’t agree to a new contract before the start of free agency next week on March 12. However this year, new rules allow for a three-day window prior to the start of free agency in which players like Moore could begin to talk to other teams to gauge the market.

Last year the Falcons used the tag on cornerback Brent Grimes. Grimes is set to the hit market again next week as the Falcons and him did not come to an agreement prior to last July’s deadline for signing franchise players.

The eight players tagged by other teams included offensive tackles Branden Albert (Kansas City Chiefs) and Ryan Clady (Denver Broncos), safety Jairus Byrd (Buffalo Bills), defensive end Michael Johnson (Cincinnati Bengals), defensive tackles Henry Melton (Chicago Bears) and Randy Starks (Miami Dolphins), punter Pat McAfee (Indianapolis Colts), and linebacker Anthony Spencer (Dallas Cowboys).

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Takeaways from Last Week – March 4

March 4th, 2013 Comments off
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t think Flacco needs to be too concerned over car payments now.

With much of the details of Joe Flacco’s new record-breaking $120.6 million contract being released on Sunday night, we now have a blueprint for what Matt Ryan’s new deal will look like. The only real question is at what point does Ryan sign on the dotted line.

I wrote earlier that I figured that Ryan would be signed sometime this summer because I did not expect Flacco’s deal to get done so quickly. Kudos to Ozzie Newsome & Co. for speeding up the process. The Ravens have a number of good free agents that they need to re-sign this off-season, and avoiding the monster $20 million franchise tag that Flacco would have incurred should allow them to keep many of them. Now, Flacco’s cap hit in 2013 is reportedly around $6.8 million, essentially freeing up $13 million in cap space.

When the Ryan deal gets done, it’s likely that the Falcons will also reap cap benefits, although I’m not sure as much. Ryan is set to count $12 million against this year’s salary cap, but I would expect the first year cap hit of his new deal to be in the ballpark of Flacco, which probably means somewhere around $5-6 million savings.

The interesting things about Flacco’s deal are the payouts in Year 1 ($30 million), Year 2 ($51 million) and Year 3 ($62 million). The latter two figures exceed that of Drew Brees, although Brees was paid $40 million in the first year of his new deal. $52 million of Flacco’s contract is guaranteed, while the number was reportedly $60 million for Brees. Remember, Brees is represented by Tom Condon, who also represents Matt Ryan. It’s in Condon’s best interest to try and reclaim the biggest contract awarded to a quarterback, although that clearly may not be in the Falcons’ best interest. So likely a middle ground will need to be reached. And that could take time. Which makes me believe that we will see Ryan comes to terms later rather than sooner. It may not last until July at this point, but I’m not optimistic that a deal will get done before March 12, when those cap savings could be very beneficial to the Falcons as they shop for new players.

As of Friday, reports were that the Falcons had yet to engage in serious talks with Ryan.

The other news that the Falcons made on Friday was the release of three veterans in John Abraham, Dunta Robinson, and Michael Turner. The Turner move was expected, and was a long time coming. I was not convinced the Falcons would dump Dunta, as it leaves a pretty large hole at cornerback. Instead, I expected the Falcons to restructure Dunta’s deal to have him return in 2013 at a more cap-friendly price. Abraham was the surprise move, as it had been hinted at but I don’t think anybody expected the Falcons to actually part ways with him. Abraham was the team’s entire pass rush practically, and the team has already proclaimed that improving there will be an off-season priority. So on Friday, the Falcons essentially took a step back in order to take several steps forward.

I really don’t know what the Falcons “plan’ is going forward. I suspect they will be targeting pass rushers early in the draft, but does it mean that they will also be looking for free agents to sign?

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 24 “Playoff Recap and Offseason Preview”

February 20th, 2013 1 comment

Another episode in which I’m joined by Allen Strk to recap the Atlanta Falcons postseason efforts as well as preview some potential moves the Falcons could make this off-season. Allen and I last spoke at the end of the regular season, and scheduling conflicts prevented us from getting a recap up earlier this month. But we’re back again to go deep into the San Francisco 49ers loss and Seattle Seahawks win, including our thoughts on Michael Turner, Thomas DeCoud, Julio Jones, Stephen Nicholas, Harry Douglas, Richard Sherman, and the offensive line. Both of us give our insights into what are some of the Falcons biggest off-season needs with much of the focus on the defensive line and the secondary. We discuss some potential free agents that could help the team including Cliff Avril, Michael Johnson, Michael Bennett, and even Darrelle Revis. You’ll also hear us discuss the play of Kroy Biermann and the futures of Jonathan Babineaux, Dunta Robinson, and Brent Grimes.

Ep. 24: Playoff Recap and Offseason Preview [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Allen writes for TJRSports.com as well as the Bleacher Report. 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. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons Needs: Cornerback

February 11th, 2013 Comments off
Bob Donnan-US PRESSWIRE

Dunta Robinson

The Falcons got improved play from Dunta Robinson, while Asante Samuel seemed to make the loss of Brent Grimes much smoother. The Falcons even discovered a diamond in the rough with Robert McClain at the nickel cornerback position. All of those things make it seem like the cornerback position is a strength for the team, but it may not be.

Both starters Robinson and Samuel are on the wrong side of the age thirty. Samuel still is going strong and throughout the second half of the season was able to show his trademark ball skills. He’s still a liability when it comes to run support, but when you make as many game-changing plays as he does in coverage, it is forgivable. Robinson appears to be the opposite player. His first year in Mike Nolan’s scheme really brought out of his run support and blitzing abilities. But Robinson rarely makes plays in coverage, and is increasingly becoming a liability there with added age. He’s never been a player that has played with great technique or discipline, relying instead on his superior athleticism to match up with receivers. But as one gets older, that athleticism is one of the first things to go and Robinson appears to be in the midst of that. Robinson has a base salary of $8 million in 2013, and $3 million of that becomes guaranteed if he’s on the roster on the fifth day of the league year (March 16).

So the Falcons have a decision to make at right cornerback. They can keep Robinson, and hope that Father Time can be staved off for one more year. Another option might be to try and draft a young corner to become his replacement. Another option could be to sign a player to push or replace him as the starter.

Other things factor into that decision, mainly Brent Grimes. Grimes is a free agent coming off an Achilles tear, one of the more devastating injuries in football. It’s certainly possible Grimes could return for the start of next year, but it would be a question of how effective he would be at that point. But given the questions surrounding Grimes’ health status, it would be a major gamble to try and replace Robinson with him in 2013. If Grimes returns to Atlanta, it will likely have to come down to his price tag. A year ago, the Ne York Giants re-signed cornerback Terrell Thomas, who was coming off an ACL tear. The Giants gave Thomas a four-year deal that had only a small portion paid in the first year, with a big option bonus in the second year, essentially giving Thomas a year to prove whether he was worth retaining long-term. The best possible scenario for the Falcons is if they can get Grimes signed to a similar deal which would lower their risk factor.

The Falcons could reach out to other potential free agents that are younger and cheaper than Robinson on the open market, but given that the price tag of corners is often driven up, that doesn’t seem to be ideal.

The Falcons could draft a corner early in the draft, but given their needs at a number of other positions it probably wouldn’t be a priority and thus would have to wait until the third day of the draft. And at that point, you’re only getting a backup candidate rather than a potential starter.

The Falcons could tinker with inserting McClain into the starting lineup. McClain had a breakout year as the team’s nickel cornerback, but when he was asked to supplant either Robinson or Samuel, both of whom dealt with injuries this past year, he was far less effective. Given the long time it’s been since the Falcons have had a good nickel cornerback, the team probably doesn’t want to put too much on McClain’s plate next year. And given the age of Samuel, the smarter strategy may be to groom McClain to replace him in two years as opposed to replacing Robinson now. That way the team can allow McClain to develop some more. The Falcons have been burned multiple times in the past with putting too much trust in young, green corners after flashing a bit of promise. Chevis Jackson, Chris Owens, and Dominique Franks were at one point in time considered to be promising starters after good starts in Atlanta. But all three ultimately petered out to become average at best players.

Franks will be back next year and the team tinkered with him playing the role of a dime safety late. Franks struggled as a punt returner and being able to carve out of a bigger role on defense might be his only salvation when it comes to making the team next year.

Like Grimes, Chris Owens is also an unrestricted free agent this year. He’ll be considerably less expensive than other potential options. Owens is an effective stopgap option as an outside corner, has experience playing in the slot, and is one of the team’s better special teams players. That should all mean that he should be back in a Falcon uniform due to his depth value. But if not, then the odds increase dramatically that the team uses one of its picks this April at the position.

All this means that Robinson probably does return to the Falcons in 2013, just at a reduced price tag. But given the ages of Robinson and Samuel, the Falcons need to have long-term plans for replacing both sooner rather than later. McClain might fit the bill for one of those spots, but in the very near future the Falcons need to find someone that can do the same at the other. Owens and Franks are less than ideal options at this point, and Grimes’ status is up in the air.

Takeaways from Championship Weekend

January 23rd, 2013 2 comments

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan deserves a new deal.

I was late in posting the recap of the Falcons-49er game partially because of my attendance at the game didn’t really give me access to a computer afterwards. That was followed up by my car breaking down Monday on my return trip to North Carolina, which consumed all my energy then and the following day. All in all, it was not a great weekend for me.

But I really needed some time and energy to digest the loss. I was never distraught over it, but it was highly disappointing. While some may label the Falcons as chokers, I don’t see it that way. Did they blow the game? Yes. They had a lead, didn’t hold it, but they had an opportunity at the end of the game to win it. They just didn’t. I’m not going to sit here like many have done over the past 72 hours and try and find a scapegoat. The 49ers were widely considered to be a better team than the Falcons, and thus their win over the Falcons is not a surprise. The Broncos were 10-point favorites over the Ravens. Their loss was a chokejob especially given the outright impossibility of the now infamous Rahim Moore blown coverage. The Broncos played uncharacteristic in that game. Peyton Manning looked a little gun shy, Champ Bailey looked old, and they even got a pair of special teams touchdowns, which had never happened in a playoff game. Teams with a pair of special teams touchdowns since 1970 are 31-7 in games. That was a chokejob.

With the Falcons being the underdogs in the game, I don’t think they choked. They had ample opportunities to win the game, they did not.

It’s more disappointing because of what I wrote about in mid-November. This was likely the Falcons best chance to be in the Super Bowl in the foreseeable future. I still believe that. Matt Ryan played the best football we’ve seen him play. What’s interesting to me is that after posting that piece, I think we started to see a significant decline in Ryan’s game, and he sort of “reverted” back to his older self as opposed to playing at the MVP level he was for the first half of 2012. I think that reversion began with his 5-interception performance against the Cardinals. Now don’t get me wrong, a “reverted” Matt Ryan is still a Top 10 quarterback, so if you hear or see any Falcon fans complaining about Matt Ryan, then my suggestion is to punch them in the face. Matt Ryan may not be as good as Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, or Tom Brady, but anybody that is unsatisfied with his performance over the past five years or this past season is a lunatic. Anybody that is still questioning Ryan’s ability to win in January, should only look at those four quarterbacks and their recent playoff success (or lack thereof). Even the great ones play poorly in January, and Ryan certainly outperformed those elite guys this past January.

Ryan certainly deserves to get a big-time extension this off-season. And my expectation is that it will make him one of the five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. That likely will exceed $16 million per year, and possibly approach $18 or $19 million per year, which would put him just behind Drew Brees ($20M/yr.) and Peyton Manning ($19.2M/yr.) (per Spotrac) as the highest paid QBs in the league. His guaranteed money will probably be in the $40 to $50 million range. It’s a very high premium, but when you think about the stability it potentially provides the Falcons for the next 5-7 years it is well worth it in my opinion. And it actually should help alleviate cap space for the Falcons as Ryan’s cap hit of $10 million in 2013 could potentially be cut in half if the Falcons structure the new deal appropriately.

The downside of such a deal means that the Falcons cap space will be limited in future years, and thus they will have to recommit to the draft which they have not done in recent years. They have traded a first or second round pick in each of the past three drafts. That can’t happen, as the Falcons won’t be able to spend as much on the open market in future years due to the high price that will be annually paid to Ryan. But that is not too much of a downside, because I think that’s exactly how Thomas Dimitroff likes it. It just means that the margin for error grows even smaller, and the Falcons can’t have any more Peria Jerry picks.

As for what the Falcons do in the off-season, nothing really has changed in terms of assessing how the year ended. We’ve known all year long that the Falcons need to become a more balanced offense by improving the ground attack. Michael Turner is likely gone. The Falcons should look to replace him with some fresh legs in the draft. The offensive line held up better down the stretch than I certainly expected after a fairly lackluster regular season. So the Falcons don’t need to make sweeping changes there. They should look to get a new right guard, as I still think Peter Konz is better suited to playing center. Maybe they can find someone in free agency, such as Buffalo’s Andy Levitre. They need to find a young replacement for Tony Gonzalez, which we’ve known for several years was a move that was inevitable.

Defensively, the Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush. Their inability to cover tight ends probably also means they need to look into getting a good coverage linebacker. Stephen Nicholas did an admirable job, but similar to Curtis Lofton he’s just not cut out to be an everydown player. But ever since Darren Sproles made Sean Weatherspoon look silly, we’ve known we needed upgrades there. And the Falcons will need to make a decision about the relative futures of Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes. Grimes is a free agent and Robinson is due a high $8 million salary, $3 million of which becomes guaranteed if he’s on the team as of the fifth day of the new league year (approximiately March 16). Do the Falcons want to keep either one or go in a new direction with another young corner? I think Robert McClain had a good season, but I don’t think the Falcons should turn over a starting position to him just yet. Considering that Asante Samuel is also up there in age, I think McClain instead should be groomed as his long-term replacement. McClain is a restricted free agent following 2013, and dependent on his performance this upcoming season will determine if he’s in the long-term plans of the team. Again, given Samuel’s age, probably the smart strategy is try to get younger. The free agent market isn’t overly strong, so it probably behooves the Falcons to look for a corner on either the first or second day of the draft come April.

Of their own free agents, William Moore and Sam Baker are the two guys that they probably cannot afford to let walk. Alongside Spoon, Moore is the only impact player on the defensive side of the ball that is in the prime of his career. Baker has played well enough to earn a new contract. I’m not 100% sold that he won’t revert back to his subpar pre-2012 form, but I think his play certainly merits a new deal. And the Falcons can still develop Lamar Holmes as an insurance policy, and give him the much-needed time I believe he needs before he’s ready to be a starter.

Those are basically the needs the Falcons need to address this off-season. Will they be able to solve all of those problems this off-season? Probably not. I personally would prioritize upgrading the offensive line at right guard, but it would not surprise me if the Falcons instead opt to make additions at running back and tight end bigger priorities offensively given they could probably live with a combination of Konz, Hawley, and/or Mike Johnson at center and right guard next year. Defensively, their priority is going to be upgrading the pass rush which could be either by adding a young edge rusher as the heir apparent to John Abraham, or an interior presence to succeed Jonathan Babineaux. Babineaux and Corey Peters are both entering the final years of their contracts, while both Abraham and Biermann have two years left. So don’t be surprised if the Falcons are more interested in defensive tackles this spring in the pre-draft process than edge rushers.

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 21 “Enhanced Pregame”

September 15th, 2012 Comments off

Through the magic of the internet and the ability to splice the meat of three separate live podcasts together, Ryan and I preview and then recap our thoughts on the Falcons win over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1. You’ll also hear my thoughts on what matchups to look out for in an extensive preview of the Falcons’ Week 2 contest against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. Other topics include the injury to Brent Grimes and its potential immediate and long-term ramifications on the Falcons season.

Ep. 21: Enhanced Pregame [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 15 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com or myself at: pudge@falcfans.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: ustream.tv/channel/falcfans-show

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Categories: Podcast Tags: , , , , ,

Falcons pick up CB Terrence Johnson

September 11th, 2012 Comments off

Adam Caplan of The Sideline View initially broke the news, and the Falcons eventually confirmed that they had signed cornerback Terrence Johnson. Johnson will take over the roster spot of Brent Grimes, who was placed on injured reserve after rupturing his Achilles in Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Johnson played last year with the Indianapolis Colts, appearing in 10 games with 2 starts, predominantly as a nickel cornerback in the slot. Johnson finished hte year with 33 tackles. He began his pro career as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots in 2010 out of California (PA). After being cut by the Patriots after training camp, he was a late season practice squad pickup by the Colts. He returned to the Colts in 2011 and made the roster a year ago before being cut this past month.

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Grimes out for year with Achilles injury

September 10th, 2012 Comments off
Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Brent Grimes

The Falcons announced on twitter today that cornerback Brent Grimes would be gone for the year with an Achilles injury. Grimes left the second half of yesterday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs with what was deemed a calf injury. The exact nature of Grimes injury has not been disclosed, but it is likely Grimes suffered a torn Achilles and will require season-ending surgery. The team announced that Grimes would go on injured reserve.

Grimes has served as the Falcons top corner the past two seasons, including a Pro Bowl year in 2010. He missed 4 games last year with a right knee injury and was given the Franchise tag after the season, set to make around $10.3 million this year. In Grimes absence, the Falcons will likely promote either Dominique Franks or Chris Owens into the nickel role. Grimes started at right corner against the Chiefs, a role that will likely be resumed by Dunta Robinson. In nickel situations, either Franks or Owens will come into the game on the right side as Robinson moves into the slot.

Categories: News Tags: , , ,