It was revealed today that Falcons wide receiver Eric Weems was arrested for driving under the influence last month in DeKalb County, Georgia. According to county jail records, he was arrested on November 16 and released on $1,100 bond the following day.
This incident was also news to the Falcons organization, as head coach Mike Smith indicated that the team had only become aware of the situation yesterday. Weems issued an apology through the team’s website:
Unfortunately, I was involved in an incident on November 17, 2009. I am embarrassed about the situation and I sincerely apologize to the entire Atlanta Falcons organization and our great fans.
Weems is not the only Falcon player dealing with legal issues, as defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was arrested last week for possession of marijuana during a traffic stop.
The AJC reports that Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux was arrested on Thursday night with charges of marijuana possession. Babineaux was released from Gwinnett County Jail early Friday morning after paying $8,300 bond.
Babineaux along with another man, Aaron Robinson, were charged with felony possession of marijuana after an officer pulled them over on I-85 north in Babineaux’s vehicle. The officer searched the vehicle after smelling marijuana and found a total of 40 grams. Babineaux is also charged with having no tag light, driving without a license, having tinted windows that were too dark, and having an expired tag.
The Falcons released a statement on Friday in regards to the arrest:
We are aware of the situation concerning Jonathan Babineaux and are in the process of gathering information. Because this is a legal matter, we will have no further comment at this time.
Head coach Mike Smith indicated that he did not feel that Babineaux’s arrest would not create a distraction to the team for this weekend’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints. The Falcons have not indicated whether or not Babineaux will play this weekend. If not, then it’s possible that rookie Vance Walker could start in his place.
This is not the first time that Babineaux has had run-ins with the law. He was charged with killing his girlfriend’s dog back in February 2007, but the charges of animal cruelty were later dismissed months later after it was believed Babineaux was acting in self defense.
Already previewed what to expect as far as competiton at quarterback, now it’s time to move on to the running backs.
Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood are entrenched at the top two spots at running back, and won’t have to worry about their jobs being up for grabs. Ovie Mughelli isn’t going anywhere as well as far as the starting fullback position goes. Meaning that leaves probably two roster spots open to the rest of the team.
Most likely to grab one of those spots is Jason Snelling, who offers versatility both to play either fullback or running back. Snelling’s playing time increased as last season wore on, and assuming the coaching staff is still high on him, it’s unlikely he’ll be left out in the cold.
The other spot will come down in a battle between Thomas Brown and Verron Haynes. Brown has the edge, given that he was a draft pick by the team a year ago. Brown gives them another potential option on third downs as well as special teams. Haynes is a bigger back, that like Snelling has played some at fullback in the past, and is a capable receiver and blocker on third downs too.
But Haynes is set to go to trial in September for writing some bad checks when purchasing a car a few years back. And while it’s not a terrible black eye, it’s not likely to grant Haynes any favors when it comes down to roster decision time.
Snelling’s ability to play either running spot means the team only really has to keep four backs when most NFL teams keep five. But the fifth back is more likely to be Brown if one is kept. The team also still has the option of throwing Brown on the practice squad if need be.
Pat Yasinskas of ESPN reports that the Falcons will release quarterback Michael Vick according to a league source.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank has stated in the past that Michael Vick’s future with the team is non-existent, and the team has been shopping him since February seeking a late round draft pick in exchange for his contract rights. So a release seemed inevitable if the Falcons could not find a trade partner in the coming months. Vick is not slated to be reinstated into the league until he’s released from federal custody in late July.
UPDATE: The Falcons formally announced that they were releasing Vick today on their website. General Manager Thomas Dimitroff had this to say about releasing the former Falcons quarterback:
“We spent a significant amount of time this off-season trying to trade him to another NFL club, and we had some conversations with a few teams, but nothing materialized. At this point, we feel releasing Michael is best for him and best for us. Our entire organization sincerely hopes that Michael will continue to focus his efforts on making positive changes in his life, and we wish him well in that regard.”
Josh Green of the Gwinnett Daily Post reports that Falcons offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka was arrested on battery charges this past week stemming from a domestic dispute involving his wife.
According to the report, Ojinnaka was arrest Tuesday night, posted $2,400 bond, and was released from Gwinnett County Jail a few hours later. Reportedly, the dispute started from Ojinnaka’s wife Ebony questioning him about an online acquaintance on Facebook.com. At one point during the dispute Ojinnaka reportedly spit in his wife’s face.
Ojinnaka is a fourth-year player for the Falcons, who appeared in 8 games this past season. He started 7 games in 2007 at left tackle. Ojinnaka primarily plays offensive tackle, but has also played some guard and center during his stint in Atlanta. He was a fifth round pick selected by the team in 2006.
Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will begin his home confinement at some point tomorrow after he is released from federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas some time after midnight tonight.
Vick will spend two months in home confinement in Hampton, Virginia, before being released from federal custody in July. During that time, he will work for a construction company in nearby Newport News, Virginia.
Vick is currently under contract with the Falcons and is serving an indefinite suspension from the league stemming from his conviction on federal charges stemming from dogfighting in 2007. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has indicated in the past that in order for Vick to be reinstated in the league after his prison term ends, he will have to show genuine remorse.
Updating previous reports, Pro Football Talk.com reports that the Falcons had been shopping imprisoned quarterback Michael Vick for a seventh round pick. The team has gotten no interest in trade talks concerning Vick when they first put him on the market in February. Lack of interest in the former three-time Pro Bowl likely is due to the fact that he has yet to be reinstated into the league and that any team acquiring him would take on the remainder of his contract. There is roughly $45 million remaining on Vick’s contract that runs through 2013.
Vick is set to be released from federal prison to home confinement next month until the end of his sentence in July. After which, he will seek reinstatement into the league. He is currently under indefinite suspension stemming from August 2007.
WDBJ of Roanoke reports that the Falcons and Michael Vick have reached a compromise deal about the amount of money he owes to the team. The Falcons have been embroiled in a legal battle about money Vick owes back to the team due to his breach of contract stemming from his incarceration from dogfighting.
The Falcons sought to reclaim close to $20 million in bonus money, and won the initial ruling by an arbitrator. But that ruling was overtuned and Vick was only liable to repay $3.75 million. The Falcons and the league have been in the process of challenging that second ruling.
WDBJ reports that the compromise is $7.5 million. That would be twice the amount of money initially expected to be reclaimed by the team.
Vick is currently in bankruptcy court.
UPDATE: The AJC reports that based on a ruling later this year by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, will determine whether Vick repays the Falcons $6.5 million or $7.5 million.
The AP reports that quarterback Michael Vick has been cleared to be released to home confinement. Vick is approaching the final months of his 23-month prison sentence from 2007.
The AP cites an anonymous official with knowledge of the case that says Vick will be released to home confinement instead of a halfway house due to the lack of bed space. Per the official, Vick could be going home to his residence in Hampton, Virginia as soon as May 21. Currently, his prison sentence is set to expire in July. While at home, he will be electronically monitored and only allowed to leave his home with approval of a probation officer.
Newsweek reports that Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jackson is not among the six players that the league announced would be suspended due to a violation of the NFL’s steroid policy. The seven players including Jackson had all appealed their suspensions which were handed down in October, but for six of them those suspensions will be upheld.
Jackson’s potential suspension has not yet been overturned. According to the Pioneer Press, NFL chief counsel Jeff Pash had heard the appeals by the players, but per NFL spokesman Greg Aiello will need additional information from Jackson in order to make a decision about his suspension.
While Jackson will be eligible to play this week against the New Orleans Saints, his status remains uncertain in subsequent weeks if the league follows suit and turns down his appeal.