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Palmer doesn’t get tendered

March 13th, 2013 Comments off

On the league’s official list of free agents published Tuesday afternoon by the Associated Press, Falcons tight end Michael Palmer’s name was listed among the restricted free agents who were not tendered offers from their respective clubs. That makes Palmer an unrestricted free agent, free to sign with any team. As a restricted free agent, if the Falcons had tendered him, they would have received the right of first refusal, the ability to match any offer that Palmer may have signed with another team. That ability to match would have extended to a 7-day period. If the Falcons did not match the deal, they would be entitled to draft pick compensation based on the original round that the player was drafted. Since Palmer was an undrafted free agent in 2010, the Falcons would have needed to tender him at the second round level. Then they potentially would have received a second round in the unlikely event that another team tried to sign him.

Palmer’s lack of a tender doesn’t preclude his return to the Falcons in 2013. But he’ll likely have to accept a near-minium deal that pays him substantially less than the $1.323 million he would have received had he been tendered.

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Falcons re-sign Antone Smith

March 5th, 2013 Comments off

Impending restricted free agent running back Antone Smith re-signed with the Atlanta Falcons today, signing a two-year contract with the team. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but both years were likely for league minimum base salaries. If the first year of Smith’s new deal is for the league minimum of $630,000 for fourth-year veterans, that is nearly $700,000 less than the RFA tender of $1.323 million, saving them some money for the start of free agency next week.

Smith first joined the Falcons during the 2009 season after being an undrafted free agent with the Detroit Lions. He was initially signed to the practice squad, and was re-signed to a future deal after the season. He made the team in 2010, and has added value primarily on special teams. Smith has played 35 games over the past three seasons, with only a single carry for -3 yards in 2009. But he has totaled 12 special teams tackles in that span, including 4 in 2012.

The Falcons other potential restricted free agent is Michael Palmer. Because he was an undrafted free agent, if Palmer is tendered at the lowest $1.323 million level, the Falcons would receive no compensation if he was to sign with another team. If the Falcons cannot work out a deal with Palmer between now and the start of free agency on March 12, then they will likely tender him at the $2.023 million level. Then the team will receive a second round pick if Palmer was to sign with another team.

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Don’t Expect a Falcon Off-season Spending Spree

February 5th, 2013 1 comment
Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

Is John Abraham in danger of being cut?

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC posted the upcoming 2013 salaries for every player under contract, confirming his earlier report that the Falcons salary cap space will be tight. The Falcons are expected to be slightly less than $2 million under next year’s projected $120.6 million salary cap. The Falcons have about $120.2 million collectively due to the top 51 players on their off-season roster, and get to carry over an addition $1.3 million from last season to squeeze in at around $1.7 million under the projected 2013 salary cap.

The salary cap in 2012 was in fact $120.6 million, but there is no expectation for a significant increase for 2013. The Falcons will need to clear some cap space in order to tender a pair of restricted free agents in tight end Michael Palmer and running back Antone Smith. Based on the projected restricted free agent tenders for this year, the Falcons will have to commit to each a minimum tender of $1.323 million if they intend to keep either. That represents the original round tender. Since both Palmer and Smith were undrafted rookies, tendering them at that level would mean that the Falcons would receive no compensation if they were to sign offers with other teams. The Falcons could then have the option of tendering the pair at the second round level, worth $2.023 million. That way, the Falcons would receive a second round pick if either free agent was to sign elsewhere. Cornerback Robert McClain is not a restricted free agent, as Ledbetter’s contract information confirms he is under contract for 2013.

Given the current projections, the Falcons only have enough cap space to tender one of the two. In order to clear more space, the Falcons could renegotiate the contracts of several veteran players, and possibly release a few.

One candidate for release is running back Michael Turner, who per Ledbetter, would create $4.4 million in cap space if released. Defensive end John Abraham is also a potential candidate for release, who Ledbetter indicates could free up $6 million in next year’s cap space. Scott Carasik of Bleacher Report indicates that the Falcons could also save at least $6 million against the 2013 by releasing cornerback Dunta Robinson.

The Falcons are also expected to sign Matt Ryan to a long-term extension this off-season. Ryan carries the team’s biggest cap hit of 2013 at $12 million. That number could reduced as part of a lower first-year salary on a new multi-year deal. Last year, the five-year $100 million contract signed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was able to lower his 2012 cap hit by roughly $6 million. Brees and Ryan are represented by the same agent, Tom Condon.

Other highly-paid veterans that might be asked to re-work their deals are wide receiver Roddy White ($9.125 million 2013 cap hit); guard Justin Blalock ($7.66 million); tackle Tyson Clabo ($6.05 million); cornerback Asante Samuel ($5.7 million); defensive tackles Jonathan Babineaux ($5.2 million) and Peria Jerry ($2.01 million); linebacker Stephen Nicholas ($3.5 million); and kicker Matt Bryant ($2.9625 million).

While these moves could potentially create a significant amount of space for the Falcons, much of that opened space will be used to retain the team’s own free agents. The Falcons are expected to re-sign offensive tackle Sam Baker to a long-term deal, and also will be looking to keep safety William Moore. The team may be forced to place the franchise tag on Moore if they cannot work out a long-term deal before the end of February. The franchise tender for safeties is expected to be around $6.8 million. Based off contracts signed by free agent tackles Eric Winston, Demetress Bell, and Jared Gaither last spring, a multi-year contract with Baker could average between $5 and $7 million annually. Per contract information provided by Spotrac.com, their first-year cap hits for that trio’s respective deals averaged about $3 million.

Factoring in tenders for Palmer and Smith, it suggests that the Falcons will need to create roughly $12 million in cap space just to retain those four free agents. Other players that become unrestricted free agents this off-season include: tight end Tony Gonzalez, cornerback Brent Grimes, center Todd McClure, fullback Mike Cox, cornerback Chris Owens, defensive tackle Vance Walker, offensive tackle Will Svitek, guard Garrett Reynolds, quarterback Luke McCown, linebacker Mike Peterson, and defensive Lawrence Sidbury.

Falcons Needs: Tight End

February 4th, 2013 Comments off

After looking at the needs at wide receiver, it’s time to look at the other key position in the Falcons passing game which is tight end. Some of this is a rehashing of a previous article.

This position will be a big question mark for the team going forward due to expected retirement of Tony Gonzalez. The Falcons will certainly leave the door open for Gonzalez’s return in 2013, but they will likely proceed with the expectation that he won’t be back. And even if he does return, the still must operate under the assumption that 2013 will be his final year and need to put a plan in place that will give them options for the future.

The Falcons need to find a starter at this position since they don’t have any viable candidates already on the roster. Chase Coffman, Michael Palmer, and Tommy Gallarda all fit the bill as backups, but none has shown enough to think that they are ready to step into the mantle as a potential starting option for the Falcons in 2013. Palmer is a restricted free agent and likely will be re-signed. Both Coffman and Gallarda are under contract for 2013, but neither will be guaranteed a roster spot. More than likely, all three will be competing for at most two roster spots next year.

That means the Falcons will need to make at least one major addition here this off-season, either via free agency or the draft. They will have some options on the open market, as there are plenty of solid starting-caliber tight ends. But if the Falcons are looking for a more permanent solution, the draft is probably the best avenue.

The Falcons may also opt to look to bolster this position with two possible players as opposed to one to try and fill Gonzalez’s gigantic shoes. Other teams have had a lot of success finding those in recent drafts (e.g. Indianapolis, Baltimore, and New England), but it could involve both a mix of free agency and the draft in Atlanta.

The Falcons are looking for a tight end that is comfortable playing with his hand on the ground, as Gonzalez has been and what Dirk Koetter has principally utilized in his offense over the years. That is becoming less en vogue in the college game because of the proliferation of the spread offense which often utilizes tight ends as oversized slot receivers. The ideal candidate will be also someone that can help challenge downfield, as that was one of the few areas of weakness for Gonzalez. But more importantly, the Falcons will want a tight end that can fill Gonzo’s shoes on third downs. Gonzalez was one of the best in that role as well as in the redzone. While players like Julio Jones and Roddy White coupled with a hopefully improved ground attack can help alleviate their redzone issues, the Falcons will want to find someone that can move the chains on third down.

Falcons soar over Lions on Saturday Night

December 23rd, 2012 1 comment
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan makes a throw against Lions

The Falcons secured the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 31-18 victory on the road against the Detroit Lions. The Falcons record now stands at 13-2 and they will have home-field throughout the playoffs. The Falcons built an early lead against the Lions, and while the Lions made things interesting in the third quarter, the Falcons were able to pull away for the win.

Matt Ryan got off to a strong start, completing his first 12 passes of the night. He finished the game 25 of 32 for 279 yards and 4 touchdowns. Those scores tie him with Steve Bartkowski for the franchise record of 31 touchdown passes in a season, and also set a new career high for Ryan. On the ground, Michael Turner led rushers with 41 yards on 13 carries. Roddy White had a big game, catching 8 passes for 153 yards and 2 of Ryan’s touchdown passes. Julio Jones also had a good game with 7 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. Michael Palmer caught Ryan’s other touchdown pass on his lone reception for a single yard. Matt Bryant connected on his lone field goal try of 20 yards. Matt Bosher punted four times for an average of 41.8 yards with 2 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. Jacquizz Rodgers returned a pair of kickoffs for an average of 24.5 yards, while Jason Snelling had a return of 9 yards. Dominique Franks had one punt return for 9 yards as well. For much of the night, the Falcons offense looked poised and efficient. They were able to convert 6 of 11 third down attempts, and also were able to get touchdowns on 2 of their 3 redzone trips.’

Defensively, the Falcons gave up a bunch of yards to the Lions who were playing from behind for most of the evening. They gave up 522 total yards to the Lions, including 443 in the air. But they also inhibited them on third downs, only allowing 5 of 14 attempts to be converted into first downs. They also forced three Lions turnovers. The team had little answer for league-leading receiver Calvin Johnson who caught 11 passes for 225 yards. Johnson was able to pass Jerry Rice on the evening, setting the new single season record for receiving yards in a season with 1892 yards. He also tied Rice for the fourth most receiving yards by an individual against the Falcons all-time. Dunta Robinson led the team with 10 tackles, as he and Samuel did their best to little avail to contain Johnson. John Abraham (2 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Thomas DeCoud (6 tackles); Akeem Dent (3 tackles); Chris Hope (7 tackles); Peria Jerry (2 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Robert McClain (5 tackles, 1 fumble recovery); Stephen Nicholas (5 tackles); Corey Peters (5 tackles, 1 forced fumble); Asante Samuel (5 tackles, 1 interception); and Sean Weatherspoon (9 tackles) all had noteworthy games.

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Samuel questionable against Saints

November 28th, 2012 Comments off
Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Asante Samuel

The Falcons announced their weekly injury report this afternoon, earlier than normal due to the fact that they will host the New Orleans Saints tomorrow on Thursday Night Football. On the report, cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive tackle Peria Jerry were listed as questionable after sitting out all three days of practice this week. Samuel was nursing a bum shoulder, which he has been limited with in recent weeks. He re-injured the shoulder last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and missed the fourth quarter. Jerry is nursing the same quadricep injury that kept him out of last week’s game. He’s dealt with thigh and knee injuries already this year which have curtailed his reps in recent weeks. Both could get welcome rest after this week’s game, as they will receive an extra three days of rest as they will not play again until December 9. If Samuel is unable to go, then Robert McClain will likely take reps at left cornerback, while Chris Owens plays in the nickel. If Jerry does not play, then Vance Walker and Travian Robertson are likely to see an increase in reps. A week ago, both players saw season-high snaps with 49 and 16, respectively.

Also appearing on the injury report listed as probable were tackle Sam Baker (groin), wide receivers Kevin Cone (groin) and Harry Douglas (ankle), safety Charles Mitchell (calf), linebacker Stephen Nicholas (knee), tight end Michael Palmer (back), cornerback Dunta Robinson, defensive tackle Vance Walker (ribs), and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (ankle). Besides Robinson, all of the players were limited in practice this week due to the short week. Robinson was added to the report on Tuesday, after missing practice due to an illness.

A key injury for the Saints is right tackle Zach Strief, who was listed as questionable with a groin injury. Strief was limited in practice all week after missing three games. If he does not go, then Will Robinson will be expected to start at right tackle. Robinson is the Saints fourth string right tackle, and was only signed to the roster on November 20.

Out this week for the Saints are defensive end Junior Gallette (ankle), wide receiver Courtney Roby (shoulder/ankle), tackle Charles Brown (knee), defensive tackle Tom Johnson (back), and safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (concussion). Tight end David Thomas (knee) and cornerback Corey White (knee) are questionable. Cornerback Elbert Mack (concussion) is probable.

Douglas out, Peters activated

October 26th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons announced their weekly injury report earlier today, upon which wide receiver Harry Douglas was declared out for this weekend’s upcoming contest against the Philadelphia Eagles. Douglas missed the entire week of practice after injuring his left knee and ankle during the team’s Week 6 win over the Oakland Raiders. D.J. Davis has thus far received the majority of snaps as the team’s fourth wide receiver so far this season, but the team may also get Kevin Cone into the mix.

The team also announced that defensive tackle Corey Peters was activated from the NFI to the 53-man active roster today, making him eligible to play this Sunday against the Eagles. Peters returned to practice on Monday, after missing the previous four months due to a foot injury. To make room for Peters on the roster, the team cut cornerback Terrence Johnson.

Also on the Falcons’ injury report was guard Garrett Reynolds (back) as questionable, and defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (groin), tight end Michael Palmer (shoulder), and running back Antone Smith (hamstring) as probable. Palmer and Smith are expected to make their returns to the lineup. Palmer was injured early in the Falcons Week 3 win over the San Diego Chargers, and Smith has been in and out of the lineup over the past month with his hamstring injury. Babineaux has been nursing his groin injury since the Chargers game. Reynolds’ back injury has caused him to be limited in the past two weeks of practices going back prior to the Raider game. Babineaux and Palmer both were limited during Wednesday and Thursday practices, but fully participated in practice today. Smith was a full participant today as well, but was limited on Thursday and missed Wednesday’s practice. Reynolds was limited in all three days of practice this week.

Palmer and Smith to miss Raider game

October 12th, 2012 Comments off

Today, the Falcons announced their injury report for this weekend’s home game against the Oakland Raiders. Tight end Michael Palmer (shoulder) and running back Antone Smith (hamstring) were both declared out for the game, as neither player practiced this week. Palmer will miss his third consecutive game after suffering his shoulder injury in the first quarter of the team’s Week 3 win over the San Diego Chargers. Smith missed two games due to his hamstring injury in Weeks 3 and 4, but returned to practice last week and suited up for the Week 5 matchup against the Redskins. But he reaggravated the injury and will also miss his third game of the 2012 season due to injury.

Also on the injury report were defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (groin) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (ankle) as questionable. Babineaux was limited in all practices this week. Nicholas was limited in Thursday and Friday practices after missing Wednesday. Nicholas suffered his injury late against the Redskins last weekend. He was replaced by Mike Peterson in the lineup. However middle linebacker Akeem Dent took over his role in the team’s nickel defense. If Babineaux does not suit up or has his role reduced, it will likely result in Vance Walker getting a start and/or Travian Robertson seeing increased reps. Robertson has been active for every game thus far this season, but has only garnered playing time late in the team’s Week 3 blowout of the Chargers.

Players that appeared on the injury report but were listed as probable for the Raider game include: wide receivers Kevin Cone (knee) and D.J. Davis (knee); defensive tackle Peria Jerry (thigh), center Todd McClure (pectoral), safety William Moore (hip), guard Garrett Reynolds (back), and cornerback Dunta Robinson (shoulder). All seven players fully participated in Friday’s practice. Cone, Davis, and Robinson also were full participants on Thursday.

Falcons Announce Week 5 Injury Report

October 5th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons announced their injury report for this weekend’s upcoming game against the Washington Redskins. Tight end Michael Palmer will miss his second consecutive game with a shoulder injury, as he was listed as out. Center Todd McClure, safety William Moore, and fullback Lousaka Polite were all listed as questionable. Both McClure and Moore were limited in practice all week long with pectroal and hip injuries, respectively. Polite missed both Wednesday and Thursday practices with a hamstring injury, but was upgraded on Friday and participated on a limited basis.

Also on the Falcons injury report were defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux (groin), wide receiver Julio Jones (hand), linebacker Stephen Nicholas (thigh), cornerback Chris Owens (concussion), and running back Antone Smith (hamstring), all listed as probable. All five players were full go in Friday’s practice. Babineaux and Smith were limited on both Wednesday and Thursday, while Nicholas and Owens were only limited in Wednesday’s practice.

For the Redskins, safety Brandon Meriweather (knee) and cornerback Cedric Griffin (hamstring) are out this Sunday. Running back Evan Royster (knee) is questionable. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon (foot), tackle Trent Williams (knee), returner Brandon Banks (hip), and cornerback DeAngelo Hall (flu) were listed as probable.

Palmer ruled out against Panthers

September 25th, 2012 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that Falcons head coach Mike Smith has already ruled tight end Michael Palmer out for this weekend’s matchup against divisional rival Carolina Panthers. Palmer suffered a shoulder injury early in Sunday’s win over the San Diego Chargers. He managed a single catch for a yard before he left the game.

Given the quick turnaround on when Palmer was declared out for the game, it’s possible he has a severe enough shoulder injury that he could miss multiple games. Typically that has been the case when players have been ruled out prior to the scheduled release of the injury report on Friday.

In his absence, Tommy Gallarda will assume reps as the No. 2 tight end behind Tony Gonzalez. Chase Coffman is on the practice squad and could possibly be elevated if the Falcons opt to cut another player.

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