Pro Football Talk reports that the Falcons are $2.6 million under the projected 2011 salary cap of $120.4 million. Teams will be required to have the Top 51 players on their roster fit under the salary cap by the first day of the league year. That day is projected to be tomorrow if the players vote to ratify the new Collective Bargaining Agreement today, as most expect. Ratification will also allow all of the veteran free agents that have signed deals in the past week to also begin practicing.
While the team has yet to release an official schedule for training camp, Falcons players are expecting to report to Flowery Branch on Wednesday to undergo physicals according to wide receiver Roddy White. On-field practices are expected to commence Friday according to the AJC.
Thirty two player representatives voted unanimously this afternoon to approve the new Collective Bargaining Agreement for a ten-year period with no chance to opt out. Thus ending the 132-day NFL lockout which began in March.
Teams are allowed to talk with their players beginning tomorrow, including negotiating contracts with veteran free agents, although they will not be able to officially sign those players until Friday at 6 pm Eastern. But teams will be allowed to start signing their own draft picks as well as undrafted rookie free agents tomorrow. Teams can also begin to cut current players on their roster on Thursday afternoon at 4:01 pm Eastern.
The Falcons have announced that single game tickets will begin to go on sale tomorrow morning.
Recapping the news and headlines involving the Falcons from the week of July 17…
Blank and Owners approve new CBA
After expressing his optimism about an impending solution to the league’s labor crisis, Falcons owner Arthur Blank was among 31 NFL owners that voted to ratify the new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Thursday at the NFL Owners meeting in Atlanta. Owners approved the deal in a 31-0 vote, with only Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis abstaining from the vote.
The holdup from the resumption of football is the players needing to approve the deal as well. Currently players are reviewing the new 400-plus page document, and then will have to vote to recertify their union. No vote appears to be immediately imminent as several minor last-minute issues have forced the players to delay. (Source: D. Orlando Ledbetter, AJC)
Ex-Falcons LB wanted by police
Ex-Falcons linebacker Ken Tippins is wanted by authorities in Adel, GA as part of a drug investigation. Last Thursday, Adel Police executed three search warrants after a six-month investigation that led to the arrest of five suspects. Still wanted is Tippins and his son, Kenneth Jr. Investigators were able to seize over $5,000 in money and approximately $2,500 worth of drugs in the bust, including crack cocaine and marijuana. Tippins was released from prison last August, after serving one year of a ten-year sentence from a March 2009 conviction stemming from a felony charges of cocaine possession.
Tippins, 45, played six seasons with the Falcons (1990-95). (Source: Jade Bulecza, WALB.com)
Recapping the news and headlines involving the Atlanta Falcons from the week of July 10…
Clabo trying to end the lockout
Tyson Clabo flew to New York along with the player representatives of all 32 teams in this latest (and hopefully final) slate of negotiations between the players and the owners to end the NFL lockout, which as of this morning reached its 125th day. But Clabo has a more prominent role, as he has been in the room with other top player reps as part of actual negotiations. Joining Clabo, are Colts center Jeff Saturday, Ravens and former Falcons corner Domonique Foxworth, retired players Sean Morey, Don Davis, and Pete Kendall, along with NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith and counsel. Clabo was invited to represent the face of the hundreds of impending free agents that will be directly affected by the end of the lockout. Recent reports indicate that progress is slow, but steadily being made. Reports indicate that a breakthrough was made on Thursday in terms of the rookie wage scale. (Source: Pro Football Weekly)
Falcons 35th most valuable team in the world
Forbes did a ranking of the 50 most valuable sports teams in the entire world, and the Falcons rated 35th among them with an estimated value of $831 million. All 32 NFL teams were represented on the list and the Falcons placed 26th among them. At the top of the list was the world famous soccer team, Manchester United being valued at over $1.8 billion. They were followed by the Dallas Cowboys and New York Yankees. Making the list were two NBA teams, two Formula-1 racing teams, 8 soccer teams, and 6 MLB teams. (Source: Kurt Badenhausen, Forbes)
Falcons somewhat difficult to root for
The Business Journals did a study rating the fan difficulty of all the pro sports teams in the four major sports in North America and the Falcons placed 15th among the 32 NFL teams. Their methodology included rating each team’s success over the past ten years and their overall success since their inception to find out which teams are most disappointing to their fan base. The Detroit Lions rated as the most disappointing NFL franchise, while the New England Patriots followed by the Pittsburgh Steelers were the least disappointing. The Falcons did better than other Atlanta-based teams, with the Atlanta Hawks placing 4th most disappointing among NBA franchises, and the Winnipeg Jets (nee Atlanta Thrashers) were 7th among NHL teams. The Atlanta Braves did much better as they were the only Atlanta-based team to earn a negative grade, which in this study indicated a relative ease in rooting for them. They placed 20th among the 30 Major League Baseball teams. (Source: G. Scott Thomas, The Business Journals)
White becomes spokesperson for USA Wrestling
USA Wrestling has started a new campaign which is urging high school athletes to compete in both wrestling and football, as both sports have historically competed for the same players. And to do so they tapped Falcons receiver Roddy White. White was a two-time state champion at James Island Charter High School in his native South Carolina and played both sports at the time. White invited ten wrestlers and the school’s coach with him to Colorado Springs to USA Wrestling’s Olympic Training Center this week to get a brand new experience and see Olympic champions work out. Four of the wrestlers play both sports just as White did. (Source: Jeff Hartsell, Charleston Post and Courier)
John Parker Wilson’s name has pinged the radar of Falcons fans twice this off-season. The first was when he became the face of Verizon Wireless’ “Know it Forward” anti-sexual assault campaign. The second was when his name was mentioned in articles discussing the team’s player-organized workouts due to his ability to help his ex-Crimson Tide teammate Julio Jones get acclimated to the Falcons offense.
That’s exactly two more times than anything we’ve seen to date from Wilson.
Wilson was arguably the top prospect among a 2009 class of undrafted quarterbacks that have managed to make some minor waves since. In New England, Brian Hoyer has carved out a niche as the No. 2 behind Tom Brady. Chase Daniel is carrying the clipboard behind Drew Brees in New Orleans. Graham Harrell is expected to push Matt Flynn behind Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay this summer. And Hunter Cantwell has an opportunity to compete for the No. 2 spot behind Joe Flacco in Baltimore this season.
All five players have arguably done as much to date as any of the eight non-first round quarterbacks drafted ahead of them (the most notable of which is the Colts’ Curtis Painter).
Wilson will face a similar challenge this summer to what Chase Daniel faced a year ago with the Saints. Daniel faced direct competition against veteran Patrick Ramsey for who would claim the No. 2 spot behind Brees. Daniel won.
It’s unlikely that the competition that Wilson faces with veteran Chris Redman will result in a zero sum in which one stays and the other goes. But there is that potential, if Wilson can put together a strong summer.
The ability to do so will be dependent on if the league and players can come to an agreement which will not shorten training camp and the preseason. Wilson will likely need all four games to put up enough of a body of work for the Falcons brass to place that much trust in him.
I keep seeing a bunch of mocks having the Falcons take an offensive linemen in the first round of the draft, and frankly from where I’m sitting, I think the odds are very, very, very low that happens. In fact, I think the odds are fairly low that the Falcons will take an offensive lineman at any point in the draft, let alone the first round. And I’ll explain why, and much of it has to do with the labor strife the league is currently undergoing.
I’m not certain what is going to become of the CBA labor situation the rest of this week or going forward. But let’s look at both scenarios: (1) the pessimistic one where a lockout occurs and there is essentially no player movement between now and the draft and afterwards. And (2) the optimistic one in that a new CBA gets hammered out at some point in the next seven weeks before the draft and that we get some semblance of free agency and a relatively normal off-season. How does either scenario affect the Falcons offensive line situation?
We know that Tyson Clabo, Harvey Dahl, and Justin Blalock all had their contracts expire at the end of the 2010 season. The Falcons quickly were able to re-sign reserve Will Svitek last week, getting him locked up for two more seasons as a Falcon. But those three players that aren’t yet signed represent 60% of the Falcons starting lineup, and arguably the best 60%. Clabo landed a Pro Bowl bid this year, and Harvey Dahl quietly had a second solid year in a Falcon uniform. And even Justin Blalock, the player I thought going into this season was the weakest link of the front five improved his play, and arguably was our most consistent blocker over the second half of the season.