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Takeaways from Last Week – June 24

June 24th, 2013 Comments off
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots could lose both tight ends this year

Of course the biggest story in the NFL last week was the news surrounding New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, and his potential involvement in the homicide of Odin Lloyd.

Lloyd was found dead last Monday afternoon after confirmation that he was with Hernandez the preceding evening. As of Sunday night, a warrant had been issued for Hernandez on obstruction of justice charges, stemming from reports that he destroyed his cell phone, security system, and had his home cleaned by maids. Certainly raises suspicions about Hernandez’s guilt.

But I won’t really comment on the legal side of things. I am neither a policeman nor a lawyer. We have a justice system in this country, and as far as I am concerned it says that a man is innocent until proven guilty. So I won’t speculate on whether Hernandez is guilty of anything besides probably picking a bad day to destroy items that would be very helpful in a murder investigation.

But I suspect regardless of how Hernandez’s legal situation plays out, we won’t be seeing him suit up for the Patriots in 2013. Given Roger Goodell’s penchant for slamming down the hammer regardless of whether a player is guilty of anything, makes me believe that before Patriots training camp starts at the end of July, we’ll see him receive an indefinite suspension until his legal situation is resolved. This happened with Michael Vick back in 2007 after he was indicted following federal dogfighting charges. We also saw the same with Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent following his indictment on manslaughter charges following his December car accident that resulted in the death of teammate Jerry Brown. Now in both cases, the common denominator is indictment. We’ll see what happens with Hernandez, but I suspect even if an indictment is not reached before July 25, when the Patriots open up camp, Goodell will ask him to simply stay away from the team as was the case with both Vick and Brent.

Well that’s about as far as I care to venture down the legal hole in terms of Hernandez’s situation, and now I’d like to switch gears to how it affects the football side of things. We already know that Rob Gronkowski’s recent back surgery puts his start to the 2013 season in jeopardy. It wouldn’t be that shocking if he too doesn’t play for the Patriots this year due to this injury. Gronkowski had an unrelated back ailment coming out of Arizona in 2010, and has had a number of injuries since joining the team. If Gronk does wind up playing this year, I don’t expect he’ll be at his previous level. And if he does return to form, it probably won’t be until the latter half of the season. Regardless, at best Gronk probably only gives the Patriots 50% of what he did in previous seasons.

That leaves the Patriots without the top three weapons from last year’s team going into 2013. They lost Wes Welker via free agency, replacing him with Danny Amendola. But their offensive identity was really built around the pair of tight ends in Hernandez and Gronkowski, that created such matchup problems with opposing defenses. It really is the equivalent if the Falcons lost Julio, Roddy, and Tony all the span of a five months.

It likely means that the Patriots offensive identity might have to switch more towards being a run-first team. Opposing defenses won’t be put in the quandary of trying to figure out how to match up with their passing attack if Hernandez and Gronkowski aren’t on the field. Gronk was the inline tight end, but was without question the best in the league the past two seasons. You couldn’t cover him with a safety or linebacker, as he was too fast, and he was too physical for a corner. Hernandez was a jack of all trades type of player that would be used like a wide receiver, tight end, H-back, and fullback at times. His role was reminiscent to Reggie Bush’s in New Orleans, where he wasn’t the best player on the field, but you always had to account for him. And because of the different alignments he could appear in, it made it very difficult to game plan against them.

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Falcons could get salary cap relief from Vick deal

August 31st, 2011 Comments off

The Falcons could receive future salary cap credits from the $6.5 million that former quarterback Michael Vick still owes them according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Such credits are reviewed on a case-by-case basis according to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, and whether or not the Falcons can get some added cap relief is under review by the league.

Vick signed a six-year $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday and owes creditors more than $20 million stemming from unpaid debts due to his 2007 incarceration. According to CNBC’s Darren Rovell those debts are expected to be paid in full by 2014 thanks to the money from Vick’s new contract.

In 2009, the Falcons sought to reclaim close to $20 million in bonus money paid to Vick from a previous contract paid in 2004 that exceeded $100 million. But a bankruptcy court ruled that Vick would only owe $6.5 million.

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Go ahead and boo Vick

November 30th, 2009 Comments off
A Homecoming

A Homecoming

The Philadelphia Eagles come to town this weekend and along with them Michael Vick. A lot of mixed emotions I’m sure among Falcon fans in regards to Vick. A mix of fond and frustrating memories. But for all Falcon fans that will be at the game this Sunday in the Dome (I won’t be among them), I insist that you boo the heck out of Vick when given the opportunity.

Why? Not because you dislike him. Personally, if there was a Hall of Fame for disliking Vick, I’d be a first ballot inductee. But Falcon fans should take a page from the Green Bay Packers and boo Vick. For Packer fans, I imagine they were just as conflicted when Favre came to town. They loved him for years, but he seemingly slapped them in the face by going to a hated rival. In a few years once Favre retires, many of the Packer fans that felt betrayed by Favre will forgive and forget about this little episode and focus on remembering Favre for the player he was in his heyday in green and gold.

My suggestion to Falcon fans is to do the same in regards of Vick. Support the team like the Packers fans did and boo Favre. Regardless of your personal opinion of Vick, I suggest Falcon fans show their team pride and not wear their old No. 7 jerseys and if Vick ever steps onto that field to hear a chorus of boos.

The Falcons are in the midst of a playoff chase, and taking a timeout this weekend to cheer for Vick is very unseemly. A true Falcon fan roots for the Falcons only, regardless of who lines up across the field.

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Falcons to cut Vick

June 12th, 2009 Comments off

Michael Vick

Michael Vick

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.”

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Vick released on Wednesday

May 19th, 2009 Comments off

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.

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Falcons seek seventh round pick for Vick

April 27th, 2009 Comments off

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.

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Falcons and Vick reach compromise

March 31st, 2009 Comments off

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.

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Vick to be released soon

February 26th, 2009 Comments off

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.
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Falcons will trade Vick

February 13th, 2009 Comments off

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff indicated earlier today in an interview at AtlantaFalcons.com that the team will explore trade options for suspended quarterback Michael Vick.

Because of his suspension, the Falcons are allowed to trade his contractual rights. Per the AJC, Vick’s base salary for 2009 is $9 million and bonuses of $6.43 million. There are $45.11 million left remaining on Vick’s contract which runs through 2013. The Falcons will be looking to deal that to another team, freeing up all that money going forward.

Vick was suspended indefinitely by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in August 2007 after he plead guilty to federal charges stemming from a dogfighting operation in Virginia. Vick has been serving time in federal prison since December 2007 and is expected to be released this summer. He is expected to begin serving the final months of his sentence in a halfway house in the coming weeks. Which could potentially allow him to start getting back into football shape for his bid for reinstatement in the league.

Dimitroff indicated that the team has received no word from the league office about a potential time table for if or when Vick will be reinstated.

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Vick pleads guilty to state charges

November 25th, 2008 Comments off

AP D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that Michael Vick entered a guilty plea to state dogfighting charges in Sussex County, Virginia. Vick is currently incarcerated stemming from his guilty plea from federal conspiracy charges.

Vick signed a plea agreement and will receive a three-year suspended prison sentence and a $2500 fine along with four years of probation. The fine will be waived if Vick pays court costs and maintains good behavior for the length of his probation.

Vick is scheduled to be released from federal prison in July 2009 but could become eligibile to have an early release six months prior and enter a halfway house.

Vick is still technically on the Falcons roster, but is currently serving an indefinite suspension from the NFL. There has been no word on a possible timetable if and when he can be reinstated by the league. Falcons owner Arthur Blank indicated earlier this month that he believes Vick should be reinstated and that he would encourage other NFL owners to sign him if available.

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