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Posts Tagged ‘Grimes’

Can the Falcons afford Super Mario?

March 6th, 2012 1 comment
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Mario Williams

The more I think about it, the more it’s hard to imagine a good reason why the Falcons shouldn’t pursue Houston Texans defensive end Mario Williams on the open market come next week.

Williams is likely to be one of the most coveted free agents in recent memory. Teams are constantly looking for top pass rushers, and few would argue that Williams is not one of the best currently in the league. The Texans did not slap him with a franchise tag, and thus are likely to lose him to the highest bidder.

Given recent deals that Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware, and Elvis Dumervil have signed that included $40 million or more in guaranteed money, the market likely will dictate that Williams will make more. Basically, Williams will make as much money as a franchise quarterback, exceeding the guaranteed dollars that Philip Rivers and Eli Manning have received in recent years and potentially approaching the guaranteed dollars of Tom Brady ($49 million).

In fact, if the Falcons attempt to extend the contract of Matt Ryan in the next 18 months, Williams’ contract could potentially rival Ryan’s for who is the highest paid player on the team. And so the question becomes can the Falcons afford two players on the roster that are guaranteed $40-50 million. Especially in an off-season where the Falcons are likely to pay premium dollar deals to cornerback Brent Grimes ($20 million-plus guaranteed), and Curtis Lofton (potentially approaching $20 million).

I think the answer is yes, but the Falcons have to be smart about their spending. Let’s examine the biggest contract for a defensive end signed by Julius Peppers with the Chicago Bears in March 2010. That deal was worth $84 million over six years with $42 million guaranteed. Another $7.5 million could be earned via incentives. Any deal with Williams, is likely to be structured similarly.

Read more…

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Falcons place franchise tag on Brent Grimes

March 2nd, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons announced today that they have decided to place the franchise tag on cornerback Brent Grimes, an impending free agent. The deadline for declaring franchise players is Monday. Grimes franchise tender will cost the team roughly $10.6 million, which if he signs his tender before a long-term deal can be worked out will be fully guaranteed. The Falcons are planning on working out a long-term deal with Grimes.

If Grimes does not have the exclusive version of the franchise tag, he can sign offer sheets with another team. If the Falcons do not match that offer, then they will be compensated with two first round picks. The Falcons last used the franchise tag on punter Michael Koenen in 2009.

Grimes first joined the Falcons in 2006 as an undrafted free agent. He was cut in his first camp but re-signed and spent the following spring playing in NFL Europe. He spent most of the 2007 season on the teams practice squad before making the final roster in 2008. That year, he started 6 games before poor play forced him to be benched. The following year, he started 8 games had 6 interceptions. In 2010, he was promoted full-time to the starting position and recorded 5 tackles, and was named to the Pro Bowl as an alternative. This past year, he only had 1 interception, missing 4 games down the stretch with a knee injury.

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FalcFans Podcast – Episode 14 (Two Parts)

February 27th, 2012 Comments off

Ryan and I get together in this first part of a two-part episode to talk Falcons off-season once more with some updates on free agency, draft, and the Combine. We run down our thoughts on several current Falcons including Sam Baker, Michael Turner, John Abraham, and of course the obligatory Joe Hawley argument. We also share our thoughts on which free agents and draft prospects the Falcons should target in order to improve the team in some key areas. We also give our perspectives on whether the Julio Jones looks better or worse with the value of hindsight.

In part two, we talk about Brent Grimes and Curtis Lofton and their futures in Atlanta as well as comparign Thomas DeCoud and Reggie Nelson. We also talk about a bunch of non-football topics including UFC, dating, technology, social media, and about past and future guests on the show.

Part 1:

Duration: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Part 2:

Duration: 1 hour

 

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. Don’t forget to drop by on gamedays to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

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 opening talks with Grimes

February 24th, 2012 Comments off

Gregg Rosenthal of Pro Football Talk reports that the Falcons have begun negotiations with the representatives of impending free agent cornerback Brent Grimes in order to bring him back to Atlanta. General manager Thomas Dimitroff was quoted earlier today at a press conference at the Scouting Combine as saying:

Those are difficult discussions to have because they are high dollar discussions. Brent Grimes is a fine football player and we’d like to have him back. We have begun our negotions with his representatives. Ben Dogra and Tom Condon are obviously accomplished agents. We’re not wasting any time with our discussions. We feel like we can come to a good conclusion to this negotiation.

If the Falcons and Grimes cannot come to an agreement between now and March 5, it’s possible that the team could use the franchise tag on him. March 5 is the final day in which teams can designate players as franchise players, which would then restrict their ability to sign elsewhere since the Falcons would need to be compensated with draft picks. The tag for cornerbacks is expected to be at around $10.6 million, which would be fully guaranteed if Grimes were to sign his tender. The last time the Falcons used the tag on a prospective free agent was in 2009, when they placed it upon punter Michael Koenen. The start of free agency will not begin until March 13 this year.

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Abraham headed to free agency

February 23rd, 2012 Comments off

Steve Wyche of NFL.com reported yesterday that in talks with Rich Rosa, the agent of impending free agent defensive John Abraham, that the veteran player is likely headed for free agency based on the current level of contract negotiations with the team.

That report comes on the heels of Mark Bradley’s predictions in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Falcons “won’t spend big” to keep Abraham. Abraham was the team’s top pass rusher this past year with 9.5 sacks, and will turn 34 in May. He first joined the Falcons in 2006 and has been one of their more prominent and stalwart defensive players since that time, having led the team in sacks in four of the past five seasons.

Bradley also made the educated guesses that the team will use their franchise tag on cornerback Brent Grimes, and won’t be too broken up if middle linebacker Curtis Lofton departs via free agency. In the case of Lofton, it mirrors what Len Pasquarelli wrote two weeks ago that the team views Lofton as a two-down defender and will pay him accordingly. It would appear that the Falcons are in the same vein with Abraham, that they will opt to keep them at the right price.

The Falcons seem poised to let players such as Abraham and Lofton test the market if they don’t manage to re-sign them before March 13.

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Free Agent Focus: Cornerback

February 14th, 2012 Comments off

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Brent Grimes

This position is one of their biggest question marks entering the off-season. The Falcons will be in a position where the decisions they make here could really make or break their defensive success for years to come.

That decision is centered on whether they bring back Brent Grimes or opt to let him walk via free agency. Grimes is one of the few impact defenders on that side of the ball and based off that fact alone it should be a no-brainer to keep him. But the question isn’t that simple, as the factor of money plays a huge part in Grimes’ future in Atlanta.

Two years ago, the Falcons made Dunta Robinson one of the league’s highest paid corners by giving him a deal that averages $9.5 million a year and included $22.5 million in guaranteed money. That contract paid Robinson over $30 million in the first three years of his contract, paying him more money than what the Falcons gave to their top wideout Roddy White the previous summer.

Robinson was essentially paid to be a premier corner, the caliber of player that could take on the league’s best receivers, and not only contain them but potentially shut them down. But what has occurred in the time since is that Grimes has developed into that player. That became very obvious when he transformed into “Optimus Grimes” and contained the league’s premier receiver in Week 7′s win over Detroit.

So now the Falcons have a potential dilemma on their hands. If any player on this roster deserves to make Robinson’s salary, it is Grimes. But the Falcons don’t seem inclined to part ways with Robinson, thanks in large part to the minimal savings it would net towards this year’s salary cap. So the Falcons are essentially having to ask themselves the question: Can they afford to pay two guys that type of money?

And whether that answer is yes or no, will reflect whether or not Grimes is a Falcon in 2012.

And if the answer is no, then the Falcons defense could be in trouble. While Dominique Franks had his moments late in the season as an injury replacement for Grimes, he is still a very far cry from providing the caliber of skills that Grimes has over the past two years. And thus the Falcons are going to need to find more help at this position if they lose Grimes.

And if the Falcons are unwilling to pay a high premium for Grimes, it’s unlikely that they are going to get into bidding wars for the other top free agent corners on the market that include Cortland Finnegan, Carlos Rogers, Brandon Carr, Tracy Porter, and Terrell Thomas.

Instead, the Falcons will likely have to look at some bargain players. The chances that Kelvin Hayden returns will probably increase if Grimes departs. Players such as Kelly Jennings, Richard Marshall, Rashean Mathis, Jason Allen, and Will Allen are all available free agents that have past experience with members of this coaching staff. With the exception of Marshall, who is only 27, all of those guys are older veterans that can at least provide the team with a decent insurance policy in case Franks or Chris Owens aren’t ready to be the starter. But all would be short-term stopgaps at best, essentially no different than the team’s decision to sign Brian Williams a few years back.

Detroit’s Eric Wright, New York’s Aaron Ross, and Chicago’s Zack Bowman might also be worthwhile targets that will likely be allowed to test their markets by their respective teams.

Either way, it appears clear that the best option available remains Grimes. And while he could be one of the more expensive options, he’s a known commodity. But new DC Mike Nolan has generally shown a preference for bigger, more physical corners than Grimes, and thus might influence their decision to pass on keeping him under the expectation that he won’t be as good going forward in Nolan’s scheme as he has been in recent years under Brian VanGorder.

If the Falcons were to retain Grimes, then there would be little issue at this position. They could continue with Grimes and Robinson as the starters, and continue to develop Franks as the nickel corner with the hope that in the future he could develop into a capable starter. Re-signing Grimes makes things a lot easier on the team.

If not, then they will likely be looking for a stopgap for a year or so in the hopes that Franks takes a huge leap forward, Robinson starts to play up to his price tag, and/or buying them a year in the hopes that they can use a top pick on a corner in the 2013 draft. It’s a huge decision, and it really could color the outlook of this defense for years to come. If they keep Grimes, they should be fairly confident that it will stabilize the secondary for years to come, an area that has been a major weakness for the Falcons over the years. If not, then they are gambling that current players on their roster will step as well as hoping that they can find that stabilizing piece in future off-seasons.

As far as I see it, why roll the dice?

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 13 “Hue Jackson Salad”

January 15th, 2012 Comments off

Ryan and I are back to recap the big coaching changes that have already occurred in this early 2012 off-season, and discuss our thoughts on Mike Mularkey, Brian VanGorder, and the many candidates that could potentially replace them. We also discuss whether or not the Falcons disappointing finish in 2011 rests on the shoulders of the coordinators, or more on those of the head coach. We argue whether or not these changes on the coaching staff can lead to dramatic upswing in the team’s fortunes in 2012. We also break down which Falcons free agents we believe will stay or go, and I go on a heated rant about the rumors surrounding Brent Grimes future in Atlanta. We both talk about potential trades and whether Roddy White and Michael Turner have played their last games in Falcon uniforms. Ryan runs down his free agency and draft day wishlists, and to finish we each share what teams if any we are rooting for in the rest of playoffs.

Ep. 13: Hue Jackson Salad [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 32 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. Don’t forget to drop by on gamedays to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

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

Grimes questionable for Giants game

January 6th, 2012 Comments off

While twenty players appeared on the Falcons Friday injury report, the majority of them were able to fully participate in the last two or three days of practice this week. Listed among the players that were not are linebacker Stephen Nicholas and cornerback Brent Grimes. Nicholas is doubtful for Sunday’s playoff game against the New York Giants, while Grimes is listed as questionable. Nicholas (turf toe) did not practice all week, and has missed four of the past five games with that injury. He is expected to be replaced by Spencer Adkins, who got his first career start last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Grimes missed both Wednesday and Thursday’s practices with his knee injury, but was able to go on a limited basis on Friday. Missing Thursday practice was considered a precautionary measure by head coach Mike Smith. Grimes missed last weeks’ reguar season finale after returning the week before against the New Orleans Saints. If Grimes is unable to go, then Dominique Franks would likely get the start at left cornerback. Before returning against the Saints, Grimes had missed three straight games, all of which he was replaced by Franks in the starting lineup.

Also listed on the injury report as probable were wide receivers Harry Douglas (groin) and Kerry Meier (groin), safety William Moore (groin), tight end Michael Palmer (knee), and running backs Jason Snelling (knee) and Michael Turner (groin). All except Snelling (limited participation) were held out of Wednesday’s practice. All would go on a limited basis on Thursday. Palmer and Snelling were able to participate fully on Friday, while the others still were limited.

For the Giants, linebacker Mark Herzlich was listed as out for the game with an ankle injury. Defensive end Justin Tuck was added to the injury report on Friday with a shoulder injury, but is probable for Sunday’s game. Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) missed both Wednesday and Thursday practices, but returned on a limited basis on Friday. He is listed as probable along with tight end Jake Ballard (knee), running back Da’Rel Scott (knee), offensive tackle Tony Ugoh (ankle), defensive end Osi Umenyiora (ankle/knee), and cornerback Corey Webster (hamstring).

Year-End Superlatives: Defensive MVP

January 4th, 2012 2 comments

Sean Weatherspoon was the choice at the midpoint because he was the one player that consistently was playing at a high level. And I think he is one of three candidates deserving of consideration by year’s end. The other two are John Abraham and Brent Grimes.

It’ll be hard to pick Grimes simply because he missed a couple of games at the end of the year, and the Falcons didn’t exactly fall apart. But Grimes played really well, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The simpletons out there will see that he only had one interception this year instead of the five he had in 2010 or six in 2011, and think he wasn’t as good. But he was arguably better. Teams learned their lessons and threw at him less, so the opportunities for the big plays weren’t always there. But he still was a disruptive guy that played at a high level every time he stepped on the field. The fact that he was able to effectively contain Calvin Johnson is proof positive enough that Grimes played at a high level.

And many people will look at Abraham’s final numbers and see a dropoff in his sack totals and think similarly that Abraham was not as good. But don’t let the relatively minor drop-off in sack production fool you, Abraham was a better football player in 2011 than he was in 2011. That is evidenced by an increased number of hits and pressures, as seen with Moneyball. Abraham was the only Falcons lineman up front that could be relied upon to get pressure on a relatively consistent basis. I would not say he was a one-man army, but certainly he would have qualified as a militia.

So that basically leaves me to stick by the midseason pick of Weatherspoon. Along with Grimes, he was the Falcon defender most deserving of being in the Pro Bowl, but he obviously got snubbed. Weatherspoon just was all over the field this year. He made plays as a pass rusher, in coverage, and versus the run at critical points in games throughout the season. And ultimately that’s exactly what you’re looking for in a MVP, someone that steps up in the big moments and makes the big plays.

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Falcons Defensive Highlight of the Year

December 31st, 2011 Comments off
Getty Images from Yahoo! Sports

Peters gives the stiff arm

Defensive highlights usually don’t get quite as much pub as the offensive ones. But Falcons defenders have made their share of big plays. And it was hard choosing which one was the best of the year.

Kroy Biermann’s pick six in Week 1 was a very impressive play, but probably doesn’t seem as great since it was in a one-sided loss. Ray Edwards fumble recovery the following week against the Eagles probably would get more points if he had taken it the distance for a score. Corey Peters did take John Abraham’s sack-strip of Blaine Gabbert vs. Jacksonville all the way to the house, but that wasn’t his most impressive play of the year.

So in the end, it has to go to Peters for his one-handed interception against the Panthers which gave the Falcons the ball back late in that game, and a few plays later they sealed the victory.

Other plays that get honorable mention: