TFY Draft Preview of Scout.com reports that there are rumors circulating that the Falcons are very interested in offensive tackle Joe Staley of Central Michigan, a player that has been rising on draft boards over the past month or so. According to the report and rumors, the Falcons would look to trade down from the top of the first round with a team looking for a defensive lineman, and then try to select Staley in the middle of the first round.
Although the report is somewhat iffy since they attribute the Falcons with having the tenth pick in the draft. They have not possessed that pick since making a March 21 trade with Houston to move up from tenth to the eight position in the first round.
Staley is listed at 6’6″ 306 pounds and really showed his impressive athleticism by running a 4.79 40-yard dash at his pro day and jumping 32 inches in the vertical leap, athleticism that is on par with many defensive linemen and linebackers in this draft. Staley began his career at Central Michigan at tight end, a nod to his obvious athleticism. He started 4 games as a freshman, catching 11 passes for 130 yards (11.8 avg) and a touchdown. As a sophomore, he became the starter at right tackle and then moved to left tackle as a junior. Over his career he registerd 244 knockdowns, including a career-high 100 as a senior. He did not allow a sack as a junior.
According to the Scout.com’s report, many now grade Staley as a better left tackle prospect than Penn State’s Levi Brown, who has been a somewhat popular choice for the Falcons in several mock drafts.
ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli reports that any Falcon trade for Deltha O’Neal is unlikely at this point, mainly due to the Bengals desire to keep the seven-year veteran. This contrasts previous reports that indicated that the deal might be close.
The Bengals plan to promote second-year cornerback Jonathan Joseph into Tory James’s vacant starting position, and want an experienced veteran to start opposite him. Although if a deal that ships O’Neal out of Cincinnati were to occur, the Bengals have a contingency plan of moving free safety Madieu Williams to his vacant position.
Matt Miller of New Era Scouting reports that the potential trade between the Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals for cornerback Deltha O’Neal could happen soon. Miller reports that the likely compensation for the Bengals would be a third round pick.
Earlier this month, O’Neal pleaded guilty to a charge of reckless driving stemming from a drunken driving arrest in December. O’Neal pleaded not guilty to the drunk driving charge. For his guilty plea, O’Neal was given a 30-day suspended jail sentence, 3 years’ probation, was fined $250, and donated $1000 to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. His driver’s license was also suspended for six months from the date of his arrest, but is allowed to drive to and from work.
Adam Schefter of NFL.com reports that the Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals have begun trade discussions for cornerback Deltha O’Neal.
O’Neal had a down year in 2006, partly limited by injury. He finished with 37 tackles and 1 interception, a significant decrease from his ’05 season in which he had 65 tackles and tied for the league lead with 10 interceptions.
This would mark the second time that O’Neal would be traded in his career. He was traded to the Bengals in 2004 from the Denver Broncos after four disappointing years there. Over his career, O’Neal has appeared in 100 games, recorded 309 tackles and 31 interceptions. He has also returned 2 punts and 1 kickoff for touchdowns.
The 30-year old cornerback is noted for his ballhawking skills and speed, two traits he would share in common with potential new teammate DeAngelo Hall.
The Falcons showed interest in Detroit Lions cornerback Dre’ Bly earlier in the off-season, but Bly was eventually traded to the Denver Broncos. Falcons head coach Bobby Petrino recently indicated that second-year player Jimmy Williams is slated as the starter opposite Hall as of today, but it’s clear from the team’s reported interest in O’Neal that they are not averse to more help.
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reports that not only will the Falcons receive the Texans second round pick in this year’s draft, but also their second round pick in 2008, and the teams will swap first round picks. The Texans currently pick 8th in the draft, while the Falcons pick 10th.
Although the trade has been agreed upon by both teams, it will only be finalized once the Texans reach a contract agreement with Schaub. Currently, Schaub is under a one-year restricted free agent tender of $2.35 million.
The acquisition of two draft picks, gives the Falcons a total of eight this year, and eight next year. The Texans second round selection is the 39th overall, and the Falcons still have the 44th overall pick in that round. The possibility now stands that the Falcons could potentially package those two second round picks with their first round selection to move up as high as the third overall pick, based off the generic trade value chart found on many draft sites.
It has been rumored that the team is interested in moving up to acquire Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Falcons are potentially in talks with the Miami Dolphins to acquire kicker Olindo Mare via trade. Other teams that may also be potential destinations for Mare are the Browns, Saints, and Giants according to Harvey Fialkov’s article.
The Dolphins signed kicker Jay Feely a week ago, which made Mare’s departure a sure thing. However his departure from Miami has been expected for some time after coming off a career low season in which he connected on only 72.2% of his 36 field goals. He missed a career high 10 field goals. He’s a career 80.9% field goal kicker, but has only matched or exceeded that total once since 2001, which came in 2005 when he connected on 83.3% of his field goals. Despite being unspectacular as a field goal kicker, Mare is one of the top kickoff guys in the league. He led the league in touchbacks last season.
Although kickoffs has not been much of an issue with the Falcons since Michael Koenen took over those duties in 2005. Koenen finished fifth in the league in terms of touchbacks last season.
Although Mare’s field goal kicking has been ordinary in recent years, he has managed to connected on nearly 90% of his kicks indoors throughout his career, making 24 of 27 indoor kicks.
How serious the Falcons are in acquiring Mare is unknown. Last year, kicking duties were handled by 46-year old Morten Andersen. Andersen proved successful, making 87% of his field goals. But he had an obvious lack of leg strength, and the team deferred to Michael Koenen often when kicks were beyond 45 yards. Mare, however has the leg strength to kick from beyond 50, having made half of his 20 attempts from that range over the past five seasons. Currently, among the teams in potential trade talks, the Giants and Falcons are the only ones without a proven kicker on the roster.
The New Orleans Saints released four-time Pro Bowl receiver Joe Horn on Thursday, making him a free agent. According to the Fayetteville Observer, the Falcons are one of four teams that have expressed interest in Horn, per his agent Ralph Vitolo.
A groin injury limited Horn to only ten games and nine starts. His absence allowed the emergence of seventh round pick Marques Colston. Horn still managed 37 catches and 4 touchdowns last year.
Colston’s emergence, coupled with Horn’s age (35) and 2007 base salary ($4.45 million) caused the Saints to look in a new direction at that position.
The Falcons wide receiver woes are no secret, and a veteran of Horn’s would not only add a set of reliable hands, but also add a solid veteran presence to help tutor young wideouts such as Michael Jenkins and Roddy White. Despite missing about half the season, Horn was still nearly as productive as the Falcons leading wideout Jenkins who caught 39 passes and 7 touchdowns.
The other teams mentioned by his agent as being interested are the Cleveland Browns, Miami Dolphins, and Green Bay Packers. The Falcons could have an advantage in landing Horn over those teams as it would allow him to face the Saints twice per year, and is much closer to his homes in Louisiana and North Carolina.
Recent reports indicate that the Atlanta Falcons may attempt to acquire two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Dre’ Bly. Bly has spent the past four seasons with the Detroit Lions, and he and his agent were given recent permission by that organization to seek a trade.
Over the weekend, NFL.com’s Adam Schefter reported that Falcons cornerback DeAngelo Hall had begun lobbying the team’s front office in order to acquire Bly. Hall and Bly are close friends that grew up in the same hometown of Chesapeake, VA.
Lee Rasizer, of the Rocky Mountain News has reported that the Denver Broncos may be another team interested in Bly. Rasizer’s report suggests that the Lions could be seeking a third round pick as compensation for Bly.
Bly will have a $4.2 million base salary in 2007. Any team that acquires him would have that salary added to their 2007 salary cap. Various sources have reported on the status of the Falcons cap space in 2007. John Clayton of ESPN.com has reported that it may be as low as $3.8 million. If that is the case, then it means that if the Falcons were to attempt to acquire Bly, they would need to restructure contracts and/or release veterans.
A veteran of eight years, Bly was originally a second round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 1999. After four years in St. Louis, he signed a lucrative contract with the Lions in 2003. He has 33 career interceptions, 5 of which he has returned for touchdowns. Last season, he finished the year with 54 tackles and 3 interceptions.
Not surprisingly, the Falcons released a statement on Tuesday denying any possible rumors of trading starting quarterback Michael Vick.
In the report by WXIA-TV, a spokeswoman for the Falcons said, “There are no plans to cut or trade Vick. Michael is our quarterback. He has a new head coach who is anxious to start working with him this season. Everyone has high expectations for Michael, including Michael.”
The statement was released likely in contrast to recent internet rumors that the Oakland Raiders are preparing to make the Falcons an offer for their recently maligned quarterback. No such press releases or statements have been heard from the Raiders, whose recent attention has been centered on their new coaching hire, Lane Kiffin.
The Falcons own new coach, Bobby Petrino, gave Vick a vote of confidence during his introductory press conference, declaring that Michael Vick was currently the team’s starter.
Vick’s first meeting with Petrino occurred this weekend, following his infamous incident in Miami International Airport.
Foxsports.com’s Ben Maller first reported in the NFL Rumors section of the website on Monday that the Oakland Raiders are interested in trading for Michael Vick. According to that report, the Raiders would part ways with receivers Randy Moss and Jerry Porter along with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft in order to acquire Vick.
The timing of this rumor is interested in the sense that it comes shortly after it was first reported that Vick would be exonerated of any wrongdoing in his infamous incident at Miami International Airport, in which he was accused of carrying a concealment device in a water bottle. And it also comes shortly before the Raiders announced that USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin would take over the team as the NFL’s youngest head coach at age 31. Any such move, would likely involve the Raiders new coach being on board.
Trading Vick would invoke an approximate cap hit of over $20 million in dead money for the Falcons if such a deal would be made.
Also, the Falcons had an opportunity to acquire Moss back in 2005 when he first landed in Oakland. Falcons owner Arthur Blank indicated personally to Moss that his proclivity for negative attention from the media would cause the Falcons to not pursue him.