The Falcons Draft is Imminent

roman

Famous round things #1: The Roman Colosseum

Round by Round Speculation

by Dewey

With the draft a week away, there has been much speculation over what our Falcons will do. Here for your viewing pleasure, I have listed the Falcons known player visits per walterfootball. There are probably some false reports and some unknown meetings, but this is probably as close to accurate and comprehensive as we can get.

With the use of nfl.com, I have added in the round each player is projected to be drafted. Take this with a grain of salt. They start working on this before the combine and don’t update their projections, so some players have risen or fallen in the eyes of the professionals and it’s not reflected in nfl.com. Also, a lot of players declared for the draft that were not expected to, those players might have had scouting reports, but no projected round. Rather than guesstimate their round, I left them in a section titled “unknown”. I’ll leave it up to you to decide where they will be drafted.

Finally, this list does not guarantee the Falcons will draft just from this list. Last season, only 2 players were drafted by the Falcons from their “known” visits list. In 2016, all but 1 drafted player came from the Falcons “known” visits list. Just thought this could be fun to speculate with. Have at it. Have fun. Don’t get too frustrated….

frizbee

The Frisbee

1st round

Brian Burns, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Florida State

Andre Dillard, OT, Washington State

Cody Ford, OT/G, Oklahoma

Dexter Lawrence, DT/3-4DE/NT, Clemson

Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

Jawaan Taylor, OT, Florida

Christian Wilkins, DT/3-4DE/NT, Clemson

charlie

Charlie Brown’s Head

1st/2nd round

DeAndre Baker, CB, Georgia

Chris Lindstrom, G, Boston College

Kaleb McGary, OT, Washington

 

2nd round

Zach Allen, DE/3-4DE, Boston College

Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State

Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State

D’Andre Walker, 3-4OLB/OLB, Georgia

lennon

John Lennon’s Glasses

 

2nd/3rd round

Tytus Howard, OT, Alabama State

3rd round

Nate Davis, OT, Charlotte

Joejuan Williams, CB, Vanderbilt

Chase Winovich, DE/3-4OLB/OLB, Michigan

lp

Bing Crosby LP

4th round

Austin Bryant, DE/3-4OLB, Clemson

Isaiah Johnson, CB, Houston

Trey Pipkins, OT, Sioux Falls

4th/5th round

Lamont Gaillard, G, Georgia

tube

The Inner Tube

5th round

John Cominsky, DE, University of Charleston

5th/6th round

Will Harris, S, Boston College

6th round

Maxx Crosby, DE, Eastern Michigan

Jamal Davis, OLB, Akron

smiley

The Smiley Face

7th round

Martez Ivey, OT/G, Florida

Easton Stick, QB, North Dakota State

Free Agents

Nick Allegretti, C, Illinois

Wes Hills, RB, Slippery Rock

Tyler Newsome, P, Notre Dame

Ryan Pope, OT, San Diego State

Jordan Ta’amu, QB, Ole Miss

oreo

The Oreo

UNKNOWN(remember, these just didn’t have any kind of projections, make up your own mind)

Parker Baldwin, S, San Diego State

Kano Dillon, TE, Oregon

Michael Dogbe, DE, Temple

Ulysees Gilbert III, OLB/ILB, Akron

Cameron Glenn, S, Wake Forest

Terry Godwin, WR, Georgia

Marcus Green, WR, Louisiana-Monroe

Mecole Hardman, WR, Georgia

Kelvin Harmon, WR, N.C. State

Cole Holcomb, OLB, North Carolina

Isaac Nauta, TE, Georgia

Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia

Deonte Roberts, ILB, Rutgers

Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State (WOR)

David Sills, WR, West Virginia (SR)

Matt Sokol, TE, Michigan State (EW)

Cody Thompson, WR, Toledo (EW)

Make up your own draft. Choose from the list, not on the list or mix it up. Let’s see what you come up with.

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Falcons Cage Takes : Free Agency

The Cage Reacts to Early Free Agency Moves; Falcons Draft Strategy Begins to Come into Focus

by The Time is NOW

athens

Notable discussion groups of history. We start with Plato Belichick (ancestor of Bill) laying out basic principles to a successful draft.

In their first major moves in free agency, the Falcons signed two very large Offensive Guards: James Carpenter and Jamon Brown. While everyone expected the Falcons to upgrade the interior offensive line, Cagers reaction to the signings was mostly negative.

“I guess my mocks will change with the signing of two guards. Every mock I’ve done I’ve had two guards in the first 3 rounds.” (Hamad Meander)

“Well great, problem solved. More crappy linemen.” (Gman)

“This is 3rd rate manure. Not wise roster moves. DESPERATION.” (Paddy O)

“Bigger is good if it’s better ….” (mighty mouse)

“December 30, 2019 Headline- “Dan Quinn Fired After Back to Back Disappointing Seasons; Dimitroff Safe “…story reads.. Falcons are in search of their next head coach as the team parted ways with Quinn. Dimitroff is safe as long as he retains the photos of Arthur Blank and Robert Kraft leaving the Happy Endings Massage Parlor together…..” (Mike-N-Charlotte)

Nonetheless, some Cagers were encouraged that the added beef on the interior Offensive Line has potential to offer Matt Ryan a cleaner pocket to step up into, and a better opportunity to convert in short yardage situations (a frequent problem for our Falcons). The offensive line free agent additions encourage the possibility of more inside zone, and even power blocking, run plays. With the addition of two blocking Tight Ends, one of whom has NFL experience at Fullback, it appears the Falcons have their jumbo, short yardage package on the roster.

knights

Knights of the Round Table review the jousting combine.

“Our OL is going to be much better on 3rd and 1, and on protecting Matt Ryan. I’m starting to get optimistic about the Falcons again…” (PoolerSpirit)

Whether the Falcons have succeeded in achieving their offensive line goals with these signings remains to be seen. These signings do indicate that the Falcons believe they have fixed the offensive line in free agency. It appears that the Falcons draft will be dedicated to fixing the defense, with a couple of possible exceptions.

The other big early free agency move was the Falcons decision to exercise the $12.8 million dollar fifth year option on DE Vic Beasley. In the days leading up to the start of the NFL year on March 13, Cagers were nearly unanimous in the hope that the Falcons would rescind the option to save cap space; particularly in light of the perceived strength of the Defensive Line draft class. Cagers reacted with disheartened resignation.

“Vic Beasley – The 12.8 Million Dollar Man or better known as Dan Quinn’s 12.8 Million Dollar Experiment” (Wings)

“If he don’t get double digit sacks this year it will be Dan Quinn’s 12.8 Million Dollar Failure.” (JB Falcon)

marco

Marco Polo looks to trade up with Kublai Khan.

“No one ever accused our FO of being the sharpest tools in the shed! I fancy myself as a pretty decent evaluator of player talent (I could just be living in my own little bubble), but I just do not see the upside in the moves that have been made this offseason.” (just “little ole” me)

Some Cagers struggled to make sense of the decision to keep Beasley for one year at $12.8 million:

“There has to be a reason for keeping Beasley. I’m not satisfied with simply calling Q and T maroons. So after simmering the question on the back of the stove for weeks, here’s my theory: Remember how some players (was it Hageman?) just couldn’t respond to Bryan Cox’s coaching style? I think Quinn believes that Beasley went soft because he simply checked out under Manuel. Quinn thinks Beasley will make a dramatic turnaround in response to Q’s more direct control as d-coordinator. Beasley is Quinn’s project. My problem is that even if Quinn succeeds, keeping Beasley is too extravagant.” (Arno)

Regardless of the wisdom of keeping Beasley, the deal is done. It would appear that this development would rule out a 1st round edge rusher, although you can never be sure what Quinnitroff will do.

Given the moves the Falcons have made so far, a Defensive Tackle appears to be the most obvious choice for the Falcons’ first round draft pick. Here are some recent Cager observations about the first round for the Falcons:

“Why would you want to push yourself out of drafting from one of the strongest positions in the draft?” (just “little ole” me)

elrond

Elrond is stuck with limited cap space. 

“If I’m the GM, I don’t grab a WR in the first under any conditions unless I’ve worked a deal w/ someone picking lower in the first.” (SG)

One Cager has done a lot of research into how Quinn (and Seattle) have used the “4/3 under” defense; including strategies that were successful, and some failed experiments. Here are some of his recent thoughts on the defensive line:

“Some of the things that are very appealing to me about Wilkins are the following: (1) he was a young starter on Clemson’s 2016 national championship team and played some strong side DE (or 5-Tech DE) then, with really nice numbers overall for run defense for that year, (2) so, he could probably fill in at a 5-Tech some in his first year including especially in short yardage defenses – side note: Carroll used an older big NT type at 5-Tech DE for at least a year or two when Carroll started in Seattle and that was very successful against some power running teams, (3) adding a pretty hefty guy (315 pounds) like him would help in roster construction and reduce some draft needs – how’s that for vague – Crawford could move back to base LDE/nickel DT (reducing the need for drafting a 5-Tech DE within the first 4 rounds, but not eliminating that need); Jarrett, Wilkins, and Senat could be part of a 3 man rotation at DT in base defenses (elimating the need for drafting a NT type player until late – like your suggestion of Huggins in the 6th); and, perhaps let one of the young undersized DTs like Zimmer just focus on becoming a nickel DT.” (Med)

congress

Checks and balances always a concern with this GM.

“Getting a NT type player (in the 4th or later) to merely be a 1-Tech type player in his rookie year would help deal with any injury problems for base defenses (and also provide depth for short yardage defenses). The “4/3 under” and related base defenses work off the concepts of a 3/4 defenses for at least the NT/big DT and a bigger LDE. So, IMO, while not as ideal as – say 4 guys that can play 1-Tech and 3-Tech roles well – a more limited 1-Tech DT should work at least o.k. in the event of an injury. On top of that, a true 1-Tech guy should be able to play some snaps early on in base defenses.” (Med)

Some Cagers believe the Falcons need to replace 2018 cap casualties Dontari Poe and DE/third down DT Adrian Clayborn in Quinn’s last chance defensive rebuild:

“In 2017 the Falcons were 9th in total defense – in 2018 they took the elevator all the way down to 28th best/worst under Manuel. of course, it wasn’t all due to a lack of coaching – losing two quality DL and not replacing them with decent talent was a major disaster. Then there were all the injuries. I look for Clayborn/Poe replacements in this draft. Still – they will be rookies….” (mighty mouse)

smith

Cagers interpret the latest press releases from the Branch.

Ever since the 2011 trade up for Julio Jones, the vast majority of Cagers have consistently advocated for trading down in the first round. Trade ups later for a dropping talent (Grady Jarrett) have been looked on favorably, but Cagers don’t like the Falcons trading up in the first round. Don’t be surprised if the Falcons trade up in the first round:

“Look early in the draft only for players who can make an immediate impact. I’d say 1st 3-4 rounds. CB, WR, DE, DT, maybe LB, not necessarily in that order. They need to win now. Don’t be surprised by a trade up into the top 5 to get more of what they consider an impact player.” (Dewey)

So fellow Cagers. The stage is set. The draft is upon us. What do you think the Falcons will do this year? If you were in charge, what would you do? Let the mocking begin in earnest!

What’s Next- Part 11

THE FINAL FRONTIER – SPECIALISTS

Dewey

by Dewey

Down to the final piece of the puzzle and the Falcons already took the wind out of my sails on this one, so let’s dive into it…

Josh Harris-long snapper

2019 cap charge-$930,000

Not listing anything else here. Harris has been a steady long snapper for us for years and if we get to the point where his less than $1 million price tag becomes a problem we’re in deep need of a new GM.

Matt Bosher-punter

2019 cap charge-$2,545,000

2020 free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

Giorgio Tavecchio-kicker

2019 cap charge-$645,000

2020 free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

OVERVIEW

Like I said, the Falcons took away all my shock and awe as I was going to suggest releasing K Matt Bryant. Not for financial reasons alone, but because at age 43 and with the injury situation last season, it was just time.

Harris isn’t going anywhere as he’s under contract at less than $1 million per year through the 2021 season. Bosher is entering the last season of his contract and has been solid, if not spectacular for the Falcons. Bosher is probably the best tackling punter/kickoff man in the league. And not just because of the occasional big hit. Bosher gets in front of his target and generally gets him to the ground. There are plenty of kickers in this league who avoid contact at all costs.

pieces

Cagers: What’s your tally of missing pieces?

 

WHAT WILL THE FALCONS DO?

It’s been done. Cutting Matt Bryant loose sent more shock waves through the Atlanta airwaves than it should have. Most assumed the XP/FG kicking duties would just be turned over to Tavecchio. Yes, he has a leg up on the competition (sorry couldn’t resist the pun), but be assured there will be at least one, maybe 2 other kickers in camp for competition. Doubt there’s a vet free agent signing, but with this FO group you never can tell. Bosher and Harris will also have some company in the meeting rooms during camp, but unless someone comes out of nowhere and just really blows everyone away, their jobs are safe.

moves

Hopefully, substantial moves will be made.

WHAT WOULD DEWEY DO?

Pretty much exactly what the Falcons did. There will be undrafted rookie free agent competition at all positions, but nothing more. It’s time this team stopped relying on automatic FG’s and worked harder to get into the endzone. It still bugs me. The most important FG in Atlanta Falcons history was never attempted.

DEWEY’S CAP COUNTER

QB’s (2)-$23,370,000

RB’s (4)-$8,765,000

FB’s (1)-$570,000

WR’s (7)-$24,926,987

TE’s (4)-$2,864,731

OT’s (3)-$15,161,700

OG’s (3)-$6,116,845

C’s (1)-$11,050,000

DT’s (6)-$21,470,824

DE’s (2)-$3,431,398

LB’s (5)-$4,129,379

DB’s (8)-$26,467,541

LS (1)-$930,000

P (1)-$2,545,000

K (1)-$645,000

shakes

Actually, it’s Macbeth Act 3 Scene 2.

 

TOTAL PLAYERS UNDER CONTRACT-49

Some quick notes here. Steven Means and Bruce Carter’s contracts have not yet been reported by spotrac but have been reported by over-the-cap. Don’t know if they’re just guessing or they are in-the-know, but both are listed as 1 year minimums that qualify for minimum salary benefit. Essentially this means they will only count the league minimum for a 2nd year player against the cap, which is $645,000. So I used those numbers. Used the same numbers for re-signing DB’s Wilson and Bethel. Sambrailo’s contract has been updated in my numbers. Also, I had originally estimated Grady’s cap hit at $10 million for year #1 of his new contract. I have updated that to the franchise tag of $15,576,000.

Dead Cap

-rolled over from 2018-$1,311,696

-Ryan Schraeder post June 1st cut-$1,300,000

-Brooks Reed-$940,000

-Duke Riley-$444,876

-Robert Alford-$1,200,000

-Matt Bryant-$1,333,334

DEWEY’S RUNNING CAP TOTAL-$158,974,311

DEWEY’S ROUGH ESTIMATE CAP SPACE-$30,000,000

(reminder here, I have already signed Grady to the franchise tag and given Julio his bump and estimated what Julio’s 1st year cap hit would be).

DEWEY’S NEEDS: VET FREE AGENTS/DRAFT

1-vet backup QB (free agency)

1-bigger/stronger RB (draft 5th round or later)

1-blocking FB (draft, free agency, undrafted free agent)

2-WR’s preferably with kick return potential (draft 5th round or later, free agency)

1-TE (draft 5th round or later)

2-OT’s (1-draft first 4 rounds, 1-vet free agent)

3-OG’s (1-draft first 3 rounds, 1-draft 5th round or later with C potential, 1-vet free agent)

DT’s-1(DEXTER LAWERENCE!!!!!!!! Or at least 1 taken in the first 3 rounds)

4-DE’s (2 through the draft, 2 in free agency)

2-LB’s (would take 2 through the draft, after round 2, but will settle for 1 in draft, 1 undrafted free agent)

1-DB (5th round or later or vet free agent)

FINAL SYNOPSIS

Over the course of these posts, I have made some moves that the Falcons have not made. These are moves that I would make or attempt to make. There are 49 players under contract and there is roughly $30 million in cap space to work with. Around $5 million will be needed for the rookie draft leaving $25 million for free agent signings.

drumbeat

Dewey has the upbeat.

 

WHAT WOULD DEWEY ULTIMATELY DO?

I’ve been beating this drum for years. I would sign mid-tier vet free agents to fill out my roster.

Back up QB, OT, OG, 2-DE’s, LB. That would be it. That would mean, without the draft, I could field a team today. Then my draft targets would be all those expiring 2020 contracts of current players who are considered major contributors. These would be…

DE-Vic Beasley

P-Matt Bosher

DT-Jack Crawford

ILB-Deion Jones

TE-Austin Hooper

OLB-De’Vondre Campbell

OG-Wes Schweitzer

FB-Ricky Ortiz

DE-Steven Means

That’s 9 players who make major contributions who will be eligible for a new contract…an expensive contract. We are in line to have 9 draft picks with this draft, so the math works out. However, we don’t need to draft a P. Waste of a draft pick and you don’t need to have 1 on the roster just “waiting in the wings”. Next, Deion above everyone will get extended. You still draft a would-be replacement because you never know, but you don’t need to prioritize it in the first few rounds. FB wouldn’t even be considered until round#6 if at all with a draft pick. If you hit on 2-3 of these picks, then that’s not only contracts you don’t need to re-new, but it’s inexpensive replacements for the next 3-4 years so you’re not out overspending on free agents.

Hope all you Cagers enjoyed my labor of love. Now take these numbers and decide what you would do.

writer

“Yes, Blue Falcon! Though it be far beyond my powers, I will write the next Cage post!”

What’s Next / Defense – Part 10

DEFENSIVE BACKS

tolkien-art

Lots to chew on (with apologies to a poem by JRR Tolkien).

by Dewey

Was gonna split this up between corners and safeties, but with Damonte Kazee likely to be a key player at both positions, it seemed more difficult to split these positions up and keep track of all the players…settle in, lots to chew on here.

 

Desmond Trufant

2019 cap charge-$13,900,000

2020 cap charge-$15,150,000

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$14,600,000

Traded/released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$4,400,000

2020 cap charge-$10,200,000

Isaiah Oliver

2019 cap charge-$1,053,784

2020 cap charge-$1,264,541

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$1,779,838

Traded/released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$1,053,784

2020 cap charge-$726,054

Brian Poole

2019-free agent

Blidi Wreh-Wilson

2019-free agent

Justin Bethel

2019-free agent

Taveze Calhoun

2019 cap charge-$495,000

2020 cap charge-$585,000

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

Damontae Kazee

2019 cap charge-$717,233

2020 cap charge-$807,233

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$144,466

Traded/released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$72,233

2020 cap charge-$72,233

Ricardo Allen

2019 cap charge-$4,875,000

2020 cap charge-$6,625,000

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$4,125,000

Traded/released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$1,375,000

2020 cap charge-$2,750,000

Keanu Neal

2019 cap charge-$3,416,524

2020-free agent (5th year team option)

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$3,416,524

Sharrod Neasman

2019 cap charge-$720,000

2020-free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

Jordan Richards

2019-free agent (good riddance)

williams

All that is gold does not glitter,

 

OVERVIEW

Due to injuries in 2018, we were able to learn a lot about our DB depth. Especially Damontae Kazee. Drafted as a corner, moved to safety, Kazee showed a knack for getting his hands on the football. Something we have lacked around here for a long time. With the moves the Falcons have made to the defensive backfield thus far this offseason, its apparent they are trying to make sure Kazee sees the field as often as possible.

kazee

Not all those who wander are lost;

Speaking of offseason moves made, the Falcons already jettisoned 2 key contributors from here (sort of). Alford was released outright. Poole was a restricted free agent that the Falcons chose not to tender. Sharrod Neasman was brought back mid-season and performed admirably given the circumstances. Ricardo and Keanu coming back from injuries 100% will be a big key to how the Falcons defensive backfield performs in 2019. Trufant is entrenched at his CB position and isn’t going anywhere until 2020 at the earliest. A lot of responsibility has suddenly been thrust upon 2nd year CB Oliver. Can he make the strides necessary this season? This is something we all will be paying attention to in 2019. Wilson has been on 1-year contracts for a couple of seasons now. From my comfy spot on the couch, he seems to play well enough for a 4th CB. Judging from the 2018 pre-season, Justin Bethel offers nothing in the way of help at DB, but he is a special teams demon.

blank

The old that is strong does not wither,

WHAT WILL THE FALCONS DO?

I’ve just got a really bad feeling here. There are a couple of 1st round CB’s in the upcoming draft that fit the mold that Dan Quinn covets. Moves the Falcons have made thus far this off season suggests that either (1) they are comfortable with who they currently have at CB (with Kazee most likely filling in at nickle back) or (2) there is something bigger on the horizon that we as fans aren’t privy to yet. Personally, I’m hoping for the former. I see the Falcons re-signing Wilson or a player comparable. No one knows better on the progress Allen and Neal are making than the Falcons. If they’re both projected to be at or near 100% going into camp, then there’s no reason to make any moves here. Neasman is a decent enough back up and Kazee can fill in for Allen if he’s not 100% ready week #1. But Quinnitroff do like the glitter. I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see a CB drafted the first 3 rounds, or even round #1 if the right player was available (Greedy Williams fits the DQ mold perfectly). I think the Falcons bring back Bethel as our special teams were much improved covering kicks, mostly due to Bethel and Gage.

trufant

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

WHAT WOULD DEWEY DO?

Maybe should have titles this section, “What would Dewey have done?” since the Falcons have already made moves without consulting me first…what nerve.

I was already planning to move on from Alford. His pay was no longer matching his play. 2016 and 2017 looked like we got a real deal with Alford, but 2018 saw a major regression in his play in all areas. I wouldn’t have moved Alford so quickly though. Just my opinion, but the fact that Alford signed on with another team so quickly tells me there was a trade market for him. Especially given the contract he signed was close to the same average and for 1 more year plus extra guaranteed money. I’m thinking we could have gotten something for him, at least a 7th rounder, possibly as high as a 5th. I would have held on to Alford until I needed to release him. I’m kinda in the same boat with Poole. Planning to release Alford, I would have tendered Poole a 2nd round tender. Would have been around $3 million for 1 year and I’d be certain to have a full compliment defensive backfield in week #1 whether or not Ricardo was ready to go. All water under the bridge now as the moves have been made and there’s nothing I can do about it…no matter how much I complain.

allen

From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,

Trufant is CB#1, Oliver, sink or swim, would be CB#2. Allen will be FS#1 when healthy with Kazee backing him up. Neal will be SS#1 with Neasman backing him up. I would re-sign Wilson to another 1-year deal if possible. Kazee will be my nickle CB when Allen is ready to go at FS. I’m not looking to draft a starter here, though if there’s a decent prospect late (5th round or later) I will certainly entertain thoughts on that. At least 1 more DB needs to come from somewhere. I would also re-sign Bethel and pray I never needed him on defense. That’s 9 DB’s under contract (counting Bethel). Teams usually carry 9.I haven’t seen enough of Calhoun to tell whether or not he’s a player. So another player will need to be added somewhere. Another vet free agent along the lines of Wilson or a late draft pick with potential should be added. Of course there will be plenty of undrafted rookie free agents in camp as well.

neasman

A light from the shadows shall spring;

DEWEY’S CAP COUNTER

QB’s (2)-$23,370,000

RB’s (4)-$8,765,000

(Note: when I started this weeks ago, Jeremy Langford was not listed as being under contract. I had assumed he was a free agent. Unless there was a signing I missed, he’s somehow popped up on the payroll for 2019. Until I find out otherwise, I must now include him on my payroll)

FB’s (1)-$570,000

WR’s (7)-$24,926,987

TE’s (4)-$2,864,731

OT’s (3)-$11,661,700

(Ty Sambrailo’s contract will be added in here as soon as it becomes available)

OG’s (3)-$6,116,845

C’s (1)-$11,050,000

DT’s (6)-$15,894,824

DE’s (2)-$2,786,398

(Steven Means contract will be added in here as soon as it becomes publicly available)

LB’s (5)-$3,484,379

(Bruce Carter’s contract will be added in here as soon as it becomes publicly available)

DB’s (8)

-Desmond Trufant-$13,900,000

-Isiah Oliver-$1,053,784

-Taveze Calhoun-$495,000

-Justin Bethel-$805,000 (league minimum)

-Blidi Wreh-Wilson-$805,000 (league minimum)

-Ricardo Allen-$4,875,000

-Keanu Neal-$3,416,524

-Damontae Kazee-$717,233

-Sharrod Neasman-$720,000

Dead Cap

-rolled over from 2018-$1,311,696

-Ryan Schraeder post June 1st cut-$1,300,000

-Brooks Reed-$940,000

-Duke Riley-$444,876

-Robert Alford-$1,200,000

(will Matt Bryant when I get to that position group)

DEWEY’S RUNNING CAP TOTAL-$141,448,487

neal

Renewed shall be blade that was broken,

DEWEY’S NEEDS: VET FREE AGENTS/DRAFT

1-vet backup QB (free agency)

1-bigger/stronger RB (draft 5th round or later)

1-blocking FB (draft, free agency, undrafted free agent)

2-WR’s preferably with kick return potential (draft 5th round or later, free agency)

1-TE (draft 5th round or later)

2-OT’s (1-draft first 4 rounds, 1-vet free agent)

3-OG’s (1-draft first 3 rounds, 1-draft 5th round or later with C potential, 1-vet free agent)

DT’s-1(DEXTER LAWERENCE!!!!!!!! Or at least 1 taken in the first 3 rounds)

4-DE’s (2 through the draft, 2 in free agency)

2-LB’s (would take 2 through the draft, after round 2, but will settle for 1 in draft, 1 undrafted free agent)

1-DB (5th round or later or vet free agent)

 

ryan

The crownless again shall be king.

What’s Next / Defense – Part 9

LINEBACKERS

cupboard

How bare is the cupboard for backup linebackers?

by Dewey

Sorry for the delay in getting this next part out…life got in the way. Back on track with just a few parts left. So, let’s get into it….

Deion Jones

2019 cap charge-$1,446,340

2020-free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$376,480

De’Vondre Campbell

2019 cap charge-$861,382

2020-free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$141,382

(Note: for those of you who check my work, for some reason spottrac and over the cap have erroneously listed De’vondre’s 2019 cap charge as $2,141,382. This is an obvious mistake given his base salary is only $720,000 and his prorated bonus is $141,382. I would have never noticed this mistake except for the fact that he and Deion were drafted the same year, Deion in the 2nd round, De’Vondre in the 4th round, yet De’Vondre was listed as a higher cap charge. See boys and girls, you can’t believe everything you read.)

Duke Riley

2019 cap charge-$948,938

2020 cap charge-$1,042,438

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$444,876

Traded/released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$222,438

2020 cap charge-$222,438

Bruce Carter

2019-recently signed, has not been reported as of this writing

Kemal Ishmael

2019-free agent

Foyesade Oluokon

2019 cap charge-$606,657

2020 cap charge-$696,657

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$109,971

Traded/Released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$36,657

2020 cap charge-$73,314

Jermaine Grace

2019 cap charge-$570,000

2020-free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

wimpy

Big guys who got in the way of runs.

OVERVIEW

Linebackers used to be the “wow” position on defense when I was young. Linemen were big, fat guys who got in the way of runs. Defensive backs were tiny guys who couldn’t hit and tried to swat away errant passes. Linebackers were they key to the defense. If you had 3 good linebackers, you had a pretty good defense. Not anymore. Sometime in the early 80’s when Montana, Marino, Elway and Kelly were filling the stadium air with footballs, someone (probably Bill Parcells) decided to take away a linebacker and insert an extra DB when the offensive was in passing mode. Seemed ludicrous at first. Then seemed ingenious. Now its almost mandatory that when the offense has more than 2 wideouts on the field, you take off 1 or 2 and sometimes all 3 LB’s and bring in extra DB’s. The Falcons have a very good 3 down LB in Deion Jones and an above average 3 down LB in De’Vondre Campbell (both of whom are eligible for free agency next season). There is also 2nd year LB Foyesade Oluokon (who from here on out will just be referred to as Foye) who showed potential after being thrust into action his rookie year due to injuries and ineffective play. The cupboard is truly bare for backups, though I like the recent re-signing of ILB Bruce Carter.

popeye

Tiny guys who couldn’t hit.

WHAT WILL THE FALCONS DO?

They might pretty much have already done it. With a good starting 3 of Deion, De’vondre and Foye, plus the re-signing of Carter and Quinn’s infatuation with Riley, there’s not a lot of room left here. Since 3 LB’s are typically used just around 40% of the time and the Falcons running a 4-3 defense, it’s not typical or useful to carry 7,8 or 9 LB’s like in the past. LB’s are usually good special teams players, but with those rules changing, 2 fast gunners are really all you need and that’s just for punt teams. I can see the Falcons carrying 6 LB’s. There will be quite a few brought in as undrafted rookie free agents. Maybe a late round pick. Maybe a special teams demon as a vet free agent. But I really don’t see a need or want here, especially with all of our other pressing needs. And since the Falcons and Quinnitroff are masters of “planning for today”, I don’t expect to see a lot more action at this level of the defense.

bluto

The wow guys.

WHAT WOULD DEWEY DO?

First of all, I need to applaud the re-signing of ILB Bruce Carter. When this guy is right, there aren’t much tougher or stronger against the run. His problem is staying healthy. I would have done the same thing, assuming the price is right, we (the public) don’t know yet.

Deion Jones and De’Vondre are both gonna be free agents in 2020. Can we sign both given the contract we are about to bestow upon Grady and the raise we are granting Julio? Doubtful. More than likely this is De’Vondre’s last season in Atlanta. Further, I’m not completely sold on Foye. He played really well and “should” make a monster leap this season. Here’s one of my issues. Usually one of the biggest leaps a player makes from year 1 to year 2 is their understanding of the game. Foye is a smart guy. A very smart guy. I dare say his understanding is almost maxed out. There will be little nuisances Foye will be able to learn. But even as far back as last summer, one of the praises that was heaped on Foye was “you never had to tell him the same thing twice”. That’s awesome for a rookie and speaks volumes of Foye but doesn’t leave a ton of room for growth.

Also, I have always held to the fact that I believe Deion would be even better playing on the outside. He still has trouble meeting olinemen and full speed RB’s straight on in the hole.

Plus, I’ve got to get rid of Duke Riley. I will try to trade him first, and I’ll even take a future 7th rounder for him. But at the very least, I’m releasing him. Dead cap be damned.

I’m not gonna sacrifice either my first or 2nd round pick for a LB, but I will start paying attention to who’s still on the board starting in round 3. And depending what I can accomplish in free agency, I might draft 2 LB’s. Staying out of the free agent market for LB’s. Cheap substitutes and special teams aces can be found in late rounds or undrafted free agents.

Side note: I would love to have former UGA and Carolina Panther star Thomas Davis here. And we might be able to get him on the cheap. But if he’s not going to start, he’s not much use other than being a mentor and possibly a short yardage specialist. Probably not offering a lot as far as special teams goes, and you kinda need that out of your backup LB’s. He’s a luxury item we just don’t have room for right now, especially if we would like to groom for the future as well as prepare for the present.

plan

Masters of planning.

DEWEY’S CAP COUNTER

QB’s (2)-$23,370,000

RB’s (3)-$8,120,000

FB’s (1)-$570,000

WR’s (7)-$24,926,987

TE’s (4)-$2,864,731

OT’s (2)-$11,661,700

OG’s (3)-$6,116,845

C’s (1)-$11,050,000

DT’s (6)-$15,894,824

DE’s (2)-$2,786,398

(Steven Means contract will be added in here as soon as it becomes publicly available)

LB’s (5)

-Deion Jones-$1,446,340

-De’Vondre Campbell-$861,382

-Bruce Carter-$?

-Foye-$606,657

-Germaine Grace-$570,000

Dead Cap

-rolled over from 2018-$1,311,696

-Ryan Schraeder post June 1st cut-$1,300,000

-Brooks Reed-$940,000

-Duke Riley-$444,876

(will add Robert Alford and Matt Bryant when I get to those position groups)

DEWEY’S RUNNING CAP TOTAL-$114,015,946

DEWEY’S NEEDS: VET FREE AGENTS/DRAFT

1-vet backup QB (free agency)

1-bigger/stronger RB (draft 5th round or later)

1-blocking FB (draft, free agency, undrafted free agent)

2-WR’s preferably with kick return potential (draft 5th round or later, free agency)

1-TE (draft 5th round or later)

2-OT’s (1-draft first 4 rounds, 1-vet free agent)

3-OG’s (1-draft first 3 rounds, 1-draft 5th round or later with C potential, 1-vet free agent)

DT’s-1(DEXTER LAWERENCE!!!!!!!! Or at least 1 taken in the first 3 rounds)

4-DE’s (2 through the draft, 2 in free agency)

2-LB’s (would take 2 through the draft, after round 2, but will settle for 1 in draft, 1 undrafted free agent)

WHAT’S NEXT-DEFENSIVE BACKS (might break this one up to CB’s and S’s, don’t know yet)

pb

What’s Next / Defense – Part 8

DEFENSIVE ENDS

popularity

Quinnitroff rule #1: Never hurt a player’s feelings.

by Dewey

Time to look at one of Quinnitroff’s favorite positions…the edge rushers on defense.

Vic Beasley

2019 cap charge-$12,800,000

2020 free agent

Traded/released 2019

Cap charge-$0

Brooks Reed

2019-released

Tak McKinley

2019 cap charge-$2,786,398

2020 cap charge-$3,250,798

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$4,833,996

Traded/released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$3,441,398

2020 cap charge-$1,392,598

Bruce Irvin

2019-free agent

Derrick Shelby

2019-free agent

Steven Means

2019-free agent

OVERVIEW

Well, Quinitroff really took the wind out of my proverbial sails when they released Brooks Reed. As a mater of fact, I was all set to ship this to Arno the same day it happened. So much so that I had to go back and revise this because a lot of the points I was making were rendered moot. But we will soldier on as they say. Some of the points still stand and it has allowed me to come up with some new angles.

ChristianWilkins

No hurt feelings. Especially this guy. We could use Wilkins.

Down to 2 DE’s on a roster that has trouble getting pressure on the QB and the 2 that are left aren’t the best edge-setters going. This is either a team going in a new direction, concentrating on the middle of the field instead of the outside, or it’s a team finally admitting mistake after mistake and deciding to correct it all at once. Either way, it allows me to bring up a good point…the Falcons worry too much about hurting players feelings to ever win big consistently. For the last 2 days, we’ve gotten reports the Falcons will be releasing Robert Alford, Matt Bryant and now Brooks Reed. Why the urgency? I haven’t seen it reported of any other team releasing or reportedly releasing any front-line players yet (as of 9 a.m. Thursday 2/7). There’s been the theory that by letting them know now, they have a better chance of catching on with another team. Since when did this become a criteria for winning the Lombardi. Alford? OK. We still have Trufant, Oliver and more than likely Poole. Bryant? He’s tightening up too often and we have a replacement already under contract. Reed? Who do we have to replace him right now? Why release him, or let him know you’re releasing him now? We want to be upfront with them? We want to give them every opportunity to latch on with someone else for the most money? What about the Falcons? What about what we need? Right now, we need at least 3 more DE’s is what we need. Time to stop playing paddy-cake and start managing football like we are 100% committed to winning it all. It’s not a popularity contest unless you win the whole damn thing…then you’re popular. And what if Quinnitroff’s “plans” fall through? What if we have a gentlemen’s agreement with Irvin or Means or both and they decide to sign elsewhere for either more money or a better shot at a title? Remember last season when we released Derrick Shelby only to re-sign him? The resulting dead money and new salary ended up more expensive in 2018 then if we’d just not cut him in the first place. Never get rid of someone unless you already have his replacement because you just never know. Anyway, off my soapbox because I could go on and on.

paddycakes

Paddy-cakes included in upcoming Olympics.

WHAT WILL THE FALCONS DO?

Screw it up like they always do. I’m sorry. Blood is still running a bit hot. The Falcons will hold on to #44 for 1 more year, probably at his $12.8 million salary because they are too nice to a fault. They will attempt to re-sign Irvin or Means or both. Quinnitroff will bring in a bigger DE to play opposite #44, Tak and Irvin. Probably someone we’ve barely heard of but someone they’ve “had their eye on for years and we knew if he ever became available, we just had to have him”. Lastly the Falcons will mortgage the future again to move up in the draft to draft one of the top tier edge rushers. Either that or we will be stuck drafting another undersized, athletic edge rusher because he has great get-off and his competitive/toughness scale is off the chart. I’m certain they have a plan. And whatever it is, I’m certain they will say it happened just the way they wanted.

gentsagreement

Some gentlemen’s agreements best avoided.

WHAT WOULD DEWEY DO?

Well, as you’ve probably already guessed, I wouldn’t have released Brooks Reed until it was time. You sign your free agent target, get your draft target, then get rid of him…not before. I would, however, get rid of #44. What’s the difference you ask? Reed at least offers you something play-in and play-out. If nothing else, it’s all-out effort. To this point, what does #44 offer you? Seriously think about it. And, has #44 shown anything to make you think he will turn the corner and suddenly become more productive? DE will definitely be a draft target for me somewhere in the first 4 rounds and possibly one in rounds 5-7. We need to get bigger, more aggressive players at this position than what we currently trot out there. I would also re-sign Irvin and Means, though nothing guaranteed for Means. And no lengthy contracts. Means gets 1 year, Irvin gets 2 years.

nice

Too nice? No, that’s not a falcon. It’s an owl.

DEWEY’S CAP COUNTER

QB’s (2)-$23,370,000

RB’s (3)-$8,120,000

FB’s (1)-$570,000

WR’s (7)-$24,926,987

TE’s (4)-$2,864,731

OT’s (2)-$11,661,700

OG’s (3)-$6,116,845

C’s (1)-$11,050,000

DT’s (6)-$15,894,824

DE’s (1)

-Tak McKinley-$2,786,398

Dead Cap

-rolled over from 2018-$1,311,696

-Ryan Schraeder post June 1st cut-$1,300,000

-Brooks Reed-$940,000

(will add Robert Alford and Matt Bryant when I get to those position groups)

DEWEY’S RUNNING CAP TOTAL-$110,086,691

DEWEY’S NEEDS: VET FREE AGENTS/DRAFT

1-vet backup QB (free agency)

1-bigger/stronger RB (draft 5th round or later)

1-blocking FB (draft, free agency, undrafted free agent)

2-WR’s preferably with kick return potential (draft 5th round or later, free agency)

1-TE (draft 5th round or later)

2-OT’s (1-draft first 4 rounds, 1-vet free agent)

3-OG’s (1-draft first 3 rounds, 1-draft 5th round or later with C potential, 1-vet free agent)

DT’s-1(DEXTER LAWERENCE!!!!!!!! Or at least 1 taken in the first 3 rounds)

4-DE’s (2 through the draft, 2 in free agency)

WHAT’S NEXT? LINEBACKERS

What’s Next / Defense – Part 7

Interior D-line

island

Very tiny island: hoping to clear the cloud.

by Dewey

Having gone through the offense, it’s now time to turn our attention to the defensive side of the line of scrimmage. I’m probably on a very tiny island on this one, but I believe our defense needs much more work than our offense. Offensively we finished 6th in total yards. Some of those yards were in garbage time in blowout losses. But even without those, we were probably still top 10-12. Offensively our biggest problem was consistency. Fix the oline and those consistency problems go out the window. Defensively? Goodness, where do you start? Can’t stop the run. Can’t generate a consistent pass rush or even just get consistent pressure. Can’t cover well. Can’t tackle well. Getting our injured back healthy will help some of this, but not all. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a consistent shutdown defense. Not just year-to-year, but even game-to-game within a given season. Even when we had a top 10 defense in 2017, it seemed like more times we were more lucky than good. The NFL has made it easier and easier to keep offenses on the field. All the more reason to build a brilliant defense to get opposing offenses off the field and get ours back on it while we still have a really good offense. The NFL might like high flying, high scoring offenses. Me? Give me a strong, attacking hair-on-fire defense any day. So, let’s get started on how we look now and how to get to where we need to be.

I will be splitting the defensive line up between interior linemen and edge defenders. Tricky because some play both depending on the situation. I will be listing them at their primary positions, where they line up in the basest of defense.

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Grady Jarrett

2019-free agent

Jack Crawford

2019 cap charge-$3,358,334

2020-free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$833,334

There is no choice to release post June 1st. Ironic twist to that little nugget is you can’t extend a player’s dead cap past the length of his original contract length. Who knew?

Deadrin Senat

2019 cap charge-$826,490

2020 cap charge-$917,490

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$613,740

Traded/released post June 1st

2019 cap charge-$204,490

2020 cap charge-$408,980

Terrell McClain

2019-free agent

Michael Bennett

2019 cap charge-$645,000

2020-free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

Justin Zimmer

2019 cap charge-$570,000

2020-free agent

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

2019 cap charge-$495,000

2020 cap charge-$585,000

Traded/released 2019

2019 cap charge-$0

atlas

OVERVIEW

Holy cow! Look at how this group looks like without Grady! It’s easy to say re-signing Grady is a top priority when you look at what’s left. Crawford had a good year and had the Falcons made the playoffs he would have been written up as one of the unsung heroes. Deadrin Senat showed some promise early but faded down the stretch. There was a shoulder injury, but also there were rumblings that he was one of the players who took it easy in Cleveland because it was “the Browns”. If that’s true, you have to wonder where his head is at and what type of player he has the potential to become. McClain never realized the career resurgence most hoped he would have moving back to a 4-3 defense. I liked Zimmer in pre-season and was somewhat surprised he didn’t make the final 53 coming out of camp. Quinn really likes Bennett, enough to bring him back a 2nd time. Tuioti-Mariner isn’t anything more than a camp body and a pipe dream.

WHAT WILL THE FALCONS DO?

Grady will be a Falcon in 2019. Even if they need to use the franchise tag on him and hope to work out a long-term deal later. But they need to be careful with that route. Franchising a player can sometimes have disastrous results when it comes to the relationship between team and player. They need to add someone here and it will more than likely been done through the draft, especially with the money they’re about to shell out to Grady. But when during the draft? The 2018 draft was supposed to be a good one for DT’s and we’d just lost Don’tari Poe. Still the Falcons waited ‘til the third round to draft one and seemed very excited to get Deadrin Senat. Did they really like him that much? Or was it relief that he was the best (in their eyes) that was left and thankful no one snatched him up before we could get him? This year’s draft is lining up even better for the DT position than last year. Will the Falcon’s go for one of the upper echelon talents at #14 or wait a round or two figuring they once again see something in a particular player that no one else sees? I doubt very seriously with our limited cap resources the Falcons go out and buy a DT unless it’s a scrapheap/reclamation project like McClain was. Grady, Crawford, Senat, a draft pick and one of Zimmer or Bennett would probably suffice for the DT position unless an undrafted rookie jumps out of nowhere and really wows the coaching staff.

atlas_2

WHAT WOULD DEWEY DO?

2 words…DEXTER LAWERENCE! This is the only time I will mention a potential draft pick by name during these segments. I’ve been thinking about Dexter in a Falcons uniform for 2 years now (close friends of mine say I need to see a therapist, find a hobby or start drinking more). At 6’4”, 340+#’s. Just think about that for a minute. If he plays up to his potential at the NFL level, the change in the dynamic of the Falcons defense would be night and day. A run stuffing NT with the agility of a 3-tech DT. There have been questions about his pass rush ability. He’s got some. No crazy spin moves or bending around the edge, but a helluva club, an above average swim and talk about pushing the pocket. He excels at pushing the pocket right back into the QB’s lap. The best way to stop the top QB’s in this league is you don’t allow them to step up in the pocket, maneuver around and step into their throws. And guess what else? If the opposing QB can’t step up a couple of steps to make his throw, that huge loop that Vic Beasley likes to make suddenly doesn’t end up 2 yards behind the QB, but rather ends up right next to him. With Grady, Crawford. Dexter and Senat, you have 2 agile pass rush types, 2 run stuffing types and the middle of our defense is no longer the soft marshmellow pad that teams like to abuse once they get the lead. Imagine on 3rd/4th and short or goaline, Dexter and Deadrin lined up right over the center. That’s 660#’s of flesh needing to be moved. Flank them with Grady and Crawford and nobody is pushing us around down there. And out between the 20’s, with the middle clogged up, teams will be forced to run wide where the speed of our defense will really start to show up. Speed doesn’t matter if someone’s running straight at you, it shows up when someone is trying to gain the edge on you. Can 1 player change all that? You bet your ass he can. No free agents, no drafting agile, athletic DT’s because they can run. Draft Dexter. Re-sign Grady. Watch our defense climb back into the top 10 in dominant fashion. All of our other free agent DT’s…good luck elsewhere. Grady, Crawford, Dexter, Senat…that’s my 4-man rotation. All other DT’s under contract and any undrafted rookie free agents, come to camp ready for a war, because there’s only room for 1 of you.

As far as Grady’s contract is concerned, I would have tried not to be in the position where I needed him so badly. Poor roster management has kind of forced the Falcons hand on this one. As much as I like Grady, I wouldn’t give him a contract that averages more than $12 million/year. And even that seems a bit high. The Falcons will probably give him an average of somewhere around $15 million. Since that’s as close to inevitable as you can get, I’m gonna assume it happens. But Dimitroff won’t let that contract cripple us this year. Correctly written, this first year shouldn’t count more than about $10 million towards the cap.

 

DEWEY’S CAP COUNTER

QB’s (2)-$23,370,000

RB’s (3)-$8,120,000

FB’s (1)-$570,000

WR’s (7)-$24,926,987

TE’s (4)-$2,864,731

OT’s (2)-$11,661,700

OG’s (3)-$6,116,845

C’s (1)-$11,050,000

DT’s (6)

Grady Jarrett-$10,000,000

Jack Crawford-$3,358,334

Deadrin Senat-$826,490

Michael Bennett-$645,000

Justin Zimmer-$570,000

Jacob Tuioti-Mariner-$495,000

Dead Cap

-rolled over from 2018-$1,311,696

-Ryan Schraeder post June 1st cut-$1,300,000

DEWEY’S RUNNING CAP TOTAL-$106,360,293

DEWEY’S NEEDS: VET FREE AGENTS/DRAFT

1-vet backup QB (free agency)

1-bigger/stronger RB (draft 5th round or later)

1-blocking FB (draft, free agency, undrafted free agent)

2-WR’s preferably with kick return potential (draft 5th round or later, free agency)

1-TE (draft 5th round or later)

2-OT’s (1-draft first 4 rounds, 1-vet free agent)

3-OG’s (1-draft first 3 rounds, 1-draft 5th round or later with C potential, 1-vet free agent)

DT’s-1(DEXTER LAWERENCE!!!!!!!! Or at least 1 taken in the first 3 rounds)

WHAT’S NEXT? EDGE DEFENDERS