An Off-Season Look at the Atlanta Falcons Roster — Offense

An Epic Guest Post from Cage Member Dewey 

An Awesome Sight!

Offensive Skill Positions Review and Predictions

It’s that time of year. Time to look at our Falcons roster. See what we have, what we need, and what we can live with (at least for one more season)

THE OFFENSE

(just the skill positions for now, will do another on the o-line, then one for defense as this is getting a bit long for anyone to want to read) 

Part I-The Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan, TJ Yates, Sean Renfree

Matt Ryan is our guy. One of the better QB’s in the game, probably the best we’ve ever had around here. Besides his stats, anyone who has watched him, especially the last 2 seasons, has to be impressed with his toughness. The beating he has taken the last 2 seasons and he hasn’t missed 1 snap. His rather hefty contract expires in 2019, but we can probably expect an extension at some point that will lend some cap relief and ensures MR2 stays in Atlanta his entire career.

Ryan Gets a New HC and OC

TJ Yates-back up who’s contract has expired. Unless someone on the inside sees something we don’t, it’s time to move on from Yates, his money can be well spent elsewhere.

Sean Renfree-probably has the backup job. Has performed nicely in some preseason games. Hope we won’t need to see what he can do in real game situations for any extended period of time.

Analysis: it’s all good at the QB position, no real need to add anything here. We’ll probably bring in an UDFA for preseason depth and competition, as well as an emergency QB on the practice squad. I will add however, if a veteran proven backup can be brought in on the cheap, it might not be a bad idea to bring them in. The beating Ryan has taken without a scratch and the injuries that have befallen every other position, you’re just kinda waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Prediction: Ryan and Renfree make the club, rookie added to PS. Yates looking for work.

Part II-The Running Backs
Steven Jackson, Devonta Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jerome Smith, Antone Smith, Ronnie Wingo

Steven Jackson-you always hate to see a great player who’s poured his heart and soul into his craft, no longer be able to play like you remember. But that time has come for Jackson. He will most likely be cut before training camp, tough love as our buddy SW calls it. Cutting Jackson will create some cap space, but also create a little bit of the dreaded “dead money”. A necessary evil in this case as dead money is preferable to dead weight.

Devonta Freeman-the odds on favorite to be the feature back. Devonta has a style more suited to our new west coast blocking scheme and is an excellent receiver coming out of the back field. A years worth of experience will have him better adjusted for pass protection duties as well.

Freeman to Carry the Load?

Jacquizz Rodgers-His contract is up, but at only 24 years of age, he still has a lot of football ahead of him. Never meant to be a feature back, this change of pace runner did everything that was asked of him under sometimes less than ideal conditions. Visions of a Darren Sproles type of back never materialized as he was mostly underutilized in a power back scheme.

Jerome Smith-UDFA who landed on the practice squad and has parlayed that into a modest contract with virtually no guaranteed money that runs through 2017. One of the bigger backs on the roster.

Antone Smith-if not for a mid season injury, we could have complained about his grotesque misuse all season long. Gifted with a burst from step one which few players possess, anytime ‘Tone touched the ball, everyone held their breath. His contract has expired and he’s coming off a broken leg, not the best way to hit free agency.

Ronnie Wingo-this big back from Arkansas has pretty much the same story line as Jerome Smith, but with no guaranteed money on a contract that runs through 2017.

Analysis: on the surface we appear to be in pretty good shape here. The reins will be handed to Devonta, either Quizz or ‘Tone will be resigned, and the other Smith and Wingo have a chance to make the club as a big back. No major upgrades needed, but the ball is squarely in Devonta’s court. A mid to late draft pick should be spent here to provide capable backup or to share some of the load.

Prediction: Freeman, J Smith, and ‘Tone make the club along with a drafted RB. Quizz signs elsewhere and Wingo heads to the PS or is cut with no guaranteed money so no dead money. SJax rides off into the sunset, keeping himself in shape for a late preseason phone call from someone after injuries start setting in or players just aren’t working out as hoped for some teams.

Part III-Fullbacks
Patrick DiMarco

Fullback has become all but a forgotten position in the NFL, until you really need one. Dimarco’s contract is up, his price tag was cheap and probably wouldn’t cost anymore to resign him. Never a devastating blocker or runner, DiMarco did show signs at the beginning of 2014 that he could be counted on for a couple of surprise receptions a game. Then we went away from that game plan for 10-12 weeks and by the time we got back to it, DiMarco had forgotten how to catch.

Analysis: this is one I could live with for one more season if I had to.

Prediction: DiMarco is resigned to a 2 year contract with no guaranteed money, meaning we can cut him with no ramifications if something better comes along. Probably won’t draft a FB unless the top 1-2 FB in the draft is still available in the 7th round where we have 2 picks. Otherwise some form of FA will be brought in for competition. Not a top priority this offseason. Revisit in 2016.

Part IV-Wide Receivers

Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Devin Hester, Drew Davis, Freddie Martino, Bernard Reedy, Eric Weems

Roddy White-on the wrong side of 30, has lost a step, hands are getting hard and calloused causing inopportune drops, nagging bumps and bruises are now becoming lingering injuries causing him to miss games or not play to the level we are accustomed to seeing and he’s signed through 2017 with a contract that is heavier on the back end. Still he owns or will own every receiving record in the Falcons record book. We should have tried to find his replacement already as he may now be more of a solid #3 than a solid #2. However, ya gotta love #84.

How Much Gas Does Roddy Have Left?

Julio Jones-What’s there to say? A tremendous athlete and right now the best WR on our team and one of the best in the league. Heading into the last year of his contract and coming off his best season, this ones gonna be expensive to keep around. I have advocated “LOOKING” to see what trading Julio could net you, mostly for economic reasons. No harm in looking right? But let’s face facts, no way is King Arthur going to give up 5 picks to draft this guy only to trade him away 5 years later. Plus, by 2016, unless some other move happens in a big way for us, Julio could be our only legitimate receiving threat. We just need him to stay healthy for 35-50 consecutive games.

Harry Douglas-Wow, talk about banging your head against the ceiling and not being able to break through. Harry is a solid, not spectacular #3 receiver. The problem here is, he needed to be a solid #2 receiver. In 2013, because of injuries to other players, he was able to showcase what he could do, and had a solid season. Again, solid, not spectacular. Harry is in the last year of his contract and will be 30 next season, the taboo age in sports, though it doesn’t affect WR’s as much. Trading him this offseason might net you a 5th round pick, doubtful we could get a #4, maybe a late #4, but the Falcons receiving cupboard is pretty bare after the “big 3”. Less than $1million in dead money if cut with a cap savings of $3.5 million.

Devin Hester-excellent return man, better than we expected WR. Another on the wrong side of 30. Can make the wideopen reception, but has trouble making the tough catch. Under contact for the next 2 seasons, cutting him this season would net you almost the same amount in cap space as it would in dead money(about 500K difference). Still one of the best return men in the league(pro bowler this year) and definitely the best return man we have. Maybe this season he’s just an 8-10 plays a game guy with half of those being as decoys and the other half trying to get him the ball in space where he is truly dangerous.

Drew Davis-restricted free agent, which means we get to match any contract anyone is willing to sign him to, and if we don’t, we may get compensation for him(though doubtful given his career standings). Everything about this guy screams he should be a solid #3 or even a #2. Showed some flashes in 2013 with all of the injuries, but then himself injured in 2014, pretty much ruining any chances to improve upon 2013. 26 years young so he isn’t going to get bigger or faster, but he isn’t slowing down either. The biggest thing this kid needs is reps to try and impress coaches and improve his skills.

Freddie Martino-young, hungry, on the books for 2 more seasons with no guaranteed money which equals no dead money. Had a decent camp last season, played some at the end of 2014. Will have to prove himself in camp.

Bernard Reedy-1st preseason game, 2014-WOW!!!! Everyone was talking about this guy. He was gonna make the club, bring more explosiveness to the offense, probably end up being the #3 receiver before the season ended, then….what? Where’d he go? We didn’t see a whole lot of Reedy after that 1st preseason game. There has been some speculation that Reedy was put on ice on purpose. His only real chance to help on special teams is as a return man, which we had one of the best, and with the top 4 WR spots already spoken for, the 1-2 backup WR’s would have to be able to contribute on ST’s, which meant Reedy wasn’t going to make the final 53 and have to go to the practice squad. But the Falcons feared if they showcased him too much, he would be snatched up for someone else’s 53 or at least their PS. So Reedy got all his work in practice, no game time. Has the exact same contract status as Martino.

Eric Weems-I love this guy. He’s a football player. He will do anything asked of him and give it everything he’s got. Special teams ace, decent return man and can grab a few passes if you need him to on offense. Selfless downfield blocker. Just a good team guy. Currently not under contract, got him on the cheap last season for less than 750K.

Analysis: This group needs to get younger and by definition hungrier pretty damn quick. If we were a team on the brink of competeing for the Super Bowl, I’d say ride the same untit for one more season and see what we can do. But with a new direction, new head coach, new philosophies, there’s bound to be some bumps in the road. You don’t want to go through growing pains with a group that won’t be around when the pain stops.

Prediction: Against my recommendation, the Falcons aren’t going to talk to anyone about Julio. Julio is staying right here until he can no longer walk onto a football field under his own power. Julio, Roddy, Drew Davis, and Bernard Reedy make the club. A WR is drafted in the mid rounds and a few UDFA as well as some mid level veteran FA will be brought in. The Falcons try and trade HD83 and if they can’t, he is released for cap space. Hester is released as Reedy or someone else takes over return duties. Hester is pretty much a break even on cap space vs. dead money. Martino finds himself on the outside looking in at a numbers game. Believe he can be resigned to practice squad if we so choose.

Personal Note:I hope Weems comes back. There is something to be said for having guys who are just football players on your roster. But needing to get younger here(Weems is 29 now, will be 30 during 2015), I just don’t see it as likely, no matter how cap friendly he is.

Part V-Tight Ends

Levine Toilolo, Mickey Shuler, Kyle Miller, Bear Pascoe

Levine Toilolo-everyone’s favorite punching bag not named Kroy Biermann. Tall, gangly specimen(big, but looks gangly due to his height at 6’8”). An above average blocker with below average hands. Tries to make too many catches with his body. When you’ve got arms that long, it’s difficult to wrap them around the ball before it bounces off your chest. Decent speed for a TE, but not Graham, Gronkowski, or any of the new era hybrid TE’s. currently under contract for the next 2 seasons with a very cap friendly number, plus only 150K in dead money if we decide to go in another direction here.

Mickey Shuler-more than just a few of us were amazed that he didn’t make the final 53 in 2014. He showed to be a decent “old school” TE as a target on offense. Nothing earth shattering as a blocker, but not many TE’s are in this day and age. Missed his chance when Smitty and Co. decided to go with 2-TE’s instead of the traditional 3. Currently signed to a 2 year futures contract with no guaranteed money.

TE Cupboard is Really Bare

Kyle Miller-have to admit, I had to do some research on this one. Signed to a futures contract similar to Shuler’s, has been with Jacksonville, Indianapolis and Miami. Has played in 1 career game(Indy in 2012). Had a decent career at Bowling Green and is a big body(6’5”, 260+lbs).

Bear Pascoe-a better than average blocking TE, was also our backup fullback in 2014 and managed to catch a couple of passes. Seems better suited to a power offensive football scheme. Currently not under contract, was on a Eric Weems type of contract in 2014.

Analysis: I pretty much feel the same way about the tightend position this year as I do about the fullback position. I could live with the status quo for one more season and revisit this in 2016. We have more important holes to fill for 2015 and we have plenty of offensive firepower without a top notch TE. Someone needs to get Toilolo into basketball camp so he can learn to catch the ball away from his body with his hands. Maybe bring in Tony Gonzalez as a special assistant just for training camp with the sole objective on working with Toilolo on getting separation and catching.

Prediction: Levine makes the ball club. A TE will either be taken late in the draft or in FA or both. I don’t know what philosophy we will go with(2 or 3 TE’s), if we go with 3, Shuler has a shot, if we just go with 2, Shuler will be shown the door once again. The Bear won’t even be offered a contract.

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315 thoughts on “An Off-Season Look at the Atlanta Falcons Roster — Offense

  1. Dewey

    SW,

    I agree with your assessment on Tampa not drafting a QB, but for a slightly different reason. Lovie had a rough first season in Tampa. If the record doesn’t improve by quite a bit, Lovie could be gone after just 2 seasons. He may not want to tie his future employment to a rookie QB.

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      Lovie will discover this season that upgrades in offensive coordinator, the switch to Glennon, and a return to health by so many on his roster may get him at least 6-8 wins if he does what he is capable of doing on defense.

      Reply
  2. Dewey

    Flo,

    Been a bit busy the last couple days (wife, 2 daughters, valentine’s weekend, ’nuff said). Wanted to get back to you regarding Shaq Thompson playing the WILL LB spot. I do think he can play the position and be very good. That position seems to rely a lot on athletecism, and Shaq, having played LB and RB, and done well at both, is versatile enough and I’d dare say it’s a position that gives him the best chance for the greatest success in the NFL.

    Reply
  3. The Time is NOW

    Hi Cage!

    .Spent a little time looking at the value available in each round for our perceived positions of need, based on my impressions. I looked at NFL.com for players that might interest me. Then I looked at Draftek for pre-draft round guesses. I looked at the following positions: OLB, DE, FS, ILB, TE, WR, OG, RB, OT, & C. Here are my guesses for value at each position pre-combine. I suggest selecting the best player available among the positions listed for each round.

    1 – DE or OLB
    2 – ILB or WR
    3 – ILB, WR, RB, OT
    4- DE, OLB, TE, FS
    5 – ILB, RB, WR
    6 – OT, OG, C, TE
    7 – OT, RB, FS, TE, C, OG, WR

    Reply
  4. marko

    As I listened to Kyle Shanahan’s news conference, it became evident that he intended to recreate his father’s Broncos teams. I think he has a pretty decent shot at pulling it off. The main ingredient’s the quarterback. In Denver Mike Shanahan inherited John Elway. John was way better than decent. To prove it , he’d already lost 4 Super Bowls. You don’t lose that many “big ones” by being completely inept. Still you can imagine the Mile High Crowd were a bit frustrated by all the close but no cigars.

    Shanahan to the rescue. Mike Shanahan came with his run heavy version of the West Coast Offense, and the rest is Wheaties box covers. When you look back on it, the thing that really jumps out at you, is the amazing production that came from such unlikely places. As locals, we weren’t clamoring for the Falcon’s to draft Terrell Davis. Terrell hadn’t done anything Herschel like. At least he played for a real college. Only the most devout draft junkies noticed when he was taken in the 6th round. For a real head scratcher, you had to consider the wannabe be tight end they took in the 7th round, out of Savannah State. Shannon Shape Wasn’t a tweener he was a shrimp. What kind of idiot drafts a 6’2” , 225 lb. tight end?

    You really don’t expect guys like that to rush for over 2000 yards in a season, much less wind up in the hall of fame. Yet that’s precisely what happened. If you look at the Super Bowl over the years, it’s mostly really bad half time shows, and unsung heroes. Richard Sherman didn’t get a lot of notice when Seattle picked him up in the 6th round. Richard Dent was an 8th round pick. Definitely wake me up when it’s over time. We’re as good as anybody when it comes to drafting total nobodies. The problem is that our nobodies tend to stay that way.

    Reply
    1. Paddy O

      it seems if you are smart, you draft a Dawg LB or other defensive player – they are RARELY exploited while in Athens – and generally drop in the draft.

      Reply
  5. waynester

    marko
    “our nobodies tend to stay that way”
    It’s those later rounds where a GM/scouting department earns their stripes. The great ones find diamonds–our guys find coprolites…..

    Reply
  6. John Waynesworld

    Dewey, I guess it could work both ways. Lovie knows he can’t do anything right away with the Bucs. Taking the DE Williams may help in the long run but the team will still probably end up with a bad record. Who’s to say what future franchise QBs are on the horizon or where the Bucs will be slotted in next year’s draft or the year after? Lovey may have to take one of those two QBs just to have a chance to stay more than two years.

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      JWW

      Fair point. But I am going to step out there and say that DK will convince them that they can afford to bypass the quarterback and go after another position of critical need. Continuity is what I am banking on and I feel that once the team gets a feel for Dk’s playbook (repeat, DK’s playbook), they will like where they stand as a unit with their third year guy in Glennon.

      Reply
  7. Grits Blitz

    Flo – “a bowel cleanse”…go wordsmith! Indeed!
    You also aptly stated what I previously predicted….Quinn will REALLY churn this roster after 2015 and before the 2016 season. Eyes will be
    popping, feet will be hopping, and most of us will likely be rejoicing cause better days (& players) should be on the horizon!

    Reply
  8. Grits Blitz

    Warrior – Love your “thinking outside the box”! THANK YOU. We’re all just trying to get our team to improve – by whatever (legal) means available.
    IF we’re just going with what we’ve got and no C. Boling being signed as a FA or drafting a stud OT:

    1. At least now w/ Quinn & Co., the MO. RR will allow Schraeder a clear, clean shot at OT. If he shows DQ he’s got what it takes, okay,
    If he’s cleared for take-off, YES, I’d like to see what he could do at L or R OT. Whatever works!
    2. Moving Jake to LG or RT would be fine, too, if he can cut it. (If Baker can actually win either OT position, we still have to have somebody
    ready at a moment’s notice to “next man up” per his injury rep. unless DQ plans to bring a hot tub to the sidelines!)
    3. Hope big Jon A. at RG can “up” his game w/ the new ZBS. (We NEED him to do so or we’ll be looking at his slot next year, IMO.)
    4. I see some stabilization coming at OC this year and may the best man win it. I don’t care who it is or if an UDFA comes into camp for a
    b-slap contest. Hawley has already declared war on Stone so, back to Mills B. Lane, “let’s get it on”.

    5. Tell me, again, why was Smitty fired and TD stays? I see him as our single biggest roadblock to present and future success and a
    constant reminder of very flawed contract signings and FA/draft decision-making. His very presence at the Branch = a failed regime
    and it’s just too d bad Quinn does not get a fresh start as the new Sheriff in town, being saddled with that bumbling, tumbling
    tumbleweed!!!

    Reply
  9. Flo-Ri-Duh

    profootballspot.com : mock draft 2/16/15 – Falcons

    #1 Shane Ray (OLB)
    #2 Hau’oli Kihaha (OLB)
    #3 Nick O’Leary (TE)

    Reply
  10. waynester

    FLO
    thanks for the above link. It demonstrates– beyond a shadow of a doubt–that we have a serious scouting/drafting problem. If you can’t hit on at least 50% of your picks in ROUND THREE (for cryin’ out loud) you are(politically incorrect/insensitive word) “mentally challenged”! Only HD and C Peters have come close to living up to their 3rd rd status(jury is out on Southward). All you have to do is go back and look at all the AMAZING TALENT we left on the board in round 3 and compare it to the guys we actually took to fill a Croaker Sack-sized barf bag. I believe most guys on this board could build an entire team in the 2nd thru 4th round of ANY draft–this year being no exception. We could trade our 1st rounder and all 4 of our other picks for mid-round picks and still make out like bandits. Every year I wind up absolutely baffled by our choices and unless there’s a major shift I expect to be gobsmacked again on day 2…..

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      What began with such promise has turned into an absolute joke. I’m done with TD. I just do not see what value he brings to the organization anymore. He should have be released with the CFA and he is just a liable for the past two years as the CFA.

      If you acquire substandard product, you have to assume a substandard result will follow; especially when you have no plan, no leadership, no vision.

      He (TD) lost me when he took Peria Jerry: then TD really pissed me off when he gave Dunta Robinson that crazy deal; TD would then shoot an arrow through my heart when he gave Sam Baker his new deal, and then, finally, TD kicked me in the @$$ and pushed me over the cliff when he brought in Soliai and Jackson last year.

      Reply
    2. Dewey

      Wayne,

      The 3rd round failures perfectly illustrate what I’ve been preaching for years now. The difference between drafting for wants vs needs. Last season we needed a safety. A run on safeties caused us to reach for Southward. After the draft we went out signed Lowery. Lowery started the entire season for us. Southward saw mostly special teams duties. I can’t believe any FS we could have drafted in later rounds couldn’t have done exactly what Southward did for us last season. RB’s Chris Simms, Tre Mason, Jerrick McKinnon, Terrance West, TE Crocket Gilmore, C Travis Swanson, G Gabe Jackson, WR’s Josh Huff, John Brown, NT Louis Nix, DT Will Sutton, LB Chris Borland are just a few that were drafted in the 3rd round after we took Southward. Not to mention FS Terrance Brooks. Any of those players could have helped the team more than Southward did last season. This is not hindsight, this is foresight(just projected back) for I made these exact statements pre-draft last season, and every season since I’ve been a Falcon fan.

      I’m not condemning Southward. He may turn out to be a fine, even great ball player.

      If you draft for need, you will always draft for need. We need to stop this way of thinking. If you look at expiring contracts next season, these are draft wants. You want to fill these holes with young, inexpensive talent. If that talent doesn’t work out, than you can still sign a veteran to fill the void. There are only 22 positions to draft for. You get 7 picks each season. There is going to be overlap. In 2016, we have expiring contracts at RB, WR, T, G, C, DE, OLB, ILB, CB, FS. Well, coincidentally, DE, OLB, ILB, FS all also happen to be need positions this season. So you can draft for the future and still have a positive effect on the present, because you have players (no matter how lacking), under contract at these positions, so none will be forced into playing this season, though some could earn the right to play.

      Sorry, I’m starting to ramble. I could go on and on about how important this way of thinking is. I’ll just finish with this…drafting this way will cause some people to question it. Everyone knows we need an upgrade at TE. You’ll notice I don’t have that listed, so some will think the plan is flawed.But guess what, Toilolo’s contract expires in 2017, so that position is already on the list for next seasons draft. You sign a mid-level, stop gap upgrade for a couple of seasons until you can fill the position through the draft. You don’t break the bank, you’re not tied to an anchor of a contract that messes with your long term flexibility for success.

      Any GM, who drafts for this season alone, is drafting scared. They are worried about their job and have no confidence is their own ability to build a long lasting brand. They’re trying to catch lightning in a bottle.

      Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      K Strick

      In this case, for the league’s veteran minimum, the Tee Pee would have no issues with this move. He is, by all accounts, a leader and a tenacious worker. We could use that as the reconstruction project takes shape.

      Reply
  11. Seminole Warrior

    My studies of the great Sensei, Ozzie Newsome, has shaped the way I look at, evaluate, assess, and construct my thoughts when it comes to the makeup of a football team.

    Rule # One that Sensei advocates: You BUILD A TEAM not simply collect talent.

    It is this rule that the front office in Atlanta needs to understand and commit to. Seattle has been good at it; perhaps Quinn will bring the needed mindset change require to put Atlanta on such a trajectory.

    Reply
    1. Dewey

      SW,

      I’m worried Quinn’s voice alone won’t be enough. I have always advocated GM first, then HC. But I’m starting to see things differently. If Quinn comes in with a “build-a-team” philosophy, and has success right out of the gate (thinking it needs to be more than 6 wins with improvements, team stats wise, across the board), he will be able to go to King Arthur and say, here is my vision, you see it works, but I can’t do it all myself, you need to bring me talent evaluators who share, or at least can get behind and believe in my philosophy.

      Only then do I believe we can rid ourselves of the spikey-haired Dimwitt.

      Reply
      1. Seminole Warrior

        Dewey

        It will be an interesting exercise in watching it all unfold. The draft will tell us all we need to know about who is truly in control. Excessive FA moves like those being advocated by some in the Cage will show that this regime, even with a new paint job, is still stuck on stupid with that mindset that we are just a few guys away.

        That is one lie that has certainly been proven to be not true.

        Reply
  12. Grits Blitz

    Dewey – Amen and more Amen!

    Warrior – You stated the sentiments of many just fine, thank you! Your pain is felt and it does indeed hurt. Why does A.B. choose to fumble with this obvious bumble, TD, when virtually EVERYONE else sees the TOP glaring hole in our entire Swiss cheese organization? (Was TD doing a little midnight recon and caught A.B. with …? Whatever it is, it must be HHHHUUUGGGEEE!)

    Reply
  13. Flo-Ri-Duh

    FALCONS FANTASY MOCK #7: BEST PLAYER AT A POSITION OF IMMEDIATE NEED
    #1] Shane Ray (DE) (8) Missouri – Quinn’s 4-3 “under” LEO
    #2] Shaq Thompson (OLB) (16) Washington – Quinn’s 4-3 “under” WILL
    #3] Tevin Coleman (RB) (88) Indiana – Steven Jackson’s replacement
    #4] D.J. Humphries (OT) Florida – talent to develop into starting LOT [Sam Baker retires / unable to perform]
    #5] Senquez Golson (CB) Mississippi – excellent coverage skills/ ballhawk
    #6] Chris Conley (WR) Georgia – excellent size, speed, hands – RW’s replacement in 2016
    #7] Emmanuel Kyle (OLB) N Dakota State – Quinn’s 4-3 “under” SAM – my sleeper in this draft
    #7] Jalston Fowler (FB) Alabama – upgrade over Dimarco

    FA signings:
    Rolando McClain, age 26 (MLB) – Quinn’s 4-3 “under” defense MLB – Weatherspoon’s a FA
    Byron Maxwell, age 27 (CB) – Alford’s moving to replace Robert McClain who is a FA
    Clint Boling, age 26 (OG) – Blalock’s retiring clearing cap space for this FA signing
    Stefen Wisniewski age 26 (C) – center is now a strength of the OL – Hawley’s traded
    Jermaine Gresham, age 27 (TE) – not great but an upgrade over Toy Boy
    Da’Norris Searcy, age 27 (FS) – solid – we get one from the Aint’s!

    Trade:
    Joe Hawley to Browns for 6th Rd pick 2016 : reduces cap by $3 mill

    Weatherspoon (ILB) – FA – not re-signed: reduces cap $3 mill

    Steven Jackson (RB) – retires – cap savings $4 mill

    Sam Baker (OT) – retires- cap savings $6.8 mill

    Jonathan Babineaux (DE/DT) – retires – cap savings $3 mill

    Peter Konz (C) – released – cap savings $1.6 mill

    12 FA’s not resigned making cap space room for 2015 DRAFTEE’s

    ***** Long Term Rebuild? – Think Again – Arthur ain’t gettin’ any younger (72 Yrs +)

    Reply
  14. waynester

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/02/03/technically-another-team-could-now-hire-thomas-dimitroff/
    I found this quite interesting. Given his middling track record it’s tough to imagine another team making such a move but there ARE WORSE GMs out there. I’ve been a loyal supporter of TD until just recently, hoping it was just a matter of him getting traction as a young GM. Other than the 1st round picks (with a couple of notable misses) which are hard to miss on–his draft strategy has become the opposite of the “Patriot Way” that I dreamed of him bringing to our “Braintrust”. Free Agency and veteran cuts/trades have been even more of a mixed bag than the draft. I had hopes that we would gain a leg up on the other NFL teams in mining “Canadian Gold” with him coming from Guelph but we have (seemingly) no presence among the “Grey Cuppers” when it comes to bringing down guys who have proven themselves in the Great White North. I take no joy in reaching this conclusion–there are plenty of “I told you so-ers” out there and they don’t need me piling on. C’MON Thomas! There are still a diminishing few of us out here pulling for you to succeed but you and Pioli have to hit some clutch homeruns in this offseason….

    Reply
  15. Seminole Warrior

    ***** Long Term Rebuild? – Think Again – Arthur ain’t gettin’ any younger (72 Yrs +)

    Flo,

    In the eyes of the Tee Pee, he has no choice. This team has to rebuild. This team has an immense talent void; either in terms of the talent in many positions OR the lack of knowledge in terms of what we ACTUALLY have on our roster. Either way, the task is daunting as it relates to turning this thing around and producing a consistent, competitive team.

    As it stands right now, the 2015 salary cap stands at an estimated $140 million. The Falcons currently stand at this following numbers:

    2015 dead money residuals: $2.9 million

    2015 contracts (53 players): $119.4 million

    2015 Draft Pool cash: $6.2 million

    Available cap space: $19.1 million

    Reply
  16. Hamad Meander

    Dewey – one of my most consistent criticisms of Dimitroff’s drafts has been the reach. You are spot on about the 3rd round issue last year with so many quality players (possibly starters) on the board, we got a backup safety. That’s not good enough results for a General Manager/Draft Guru.

    Get the best guy at the position when drafting in the first couple of rounds. Of course, that doesn’t mean you pick a QB in the first round, but you might go with the best safety in the draft vs. the 4th best end. Or in the second round, take the best offensive guard vs. the 9th best outside linebacker. The Falcons have to get this roster working FOR them vs. AGAINST them.

    Reply
    1. Seminole Warrior

      Hamad

      It makes too much sense, right? But it works. It’s all about players.

      Or in the words of Mike Singletary, I would rather have 10 guys that want to compete, want to win, and want to be here than have 11 when I know that one is not committed, focused, or bringing his best.

      Wishing should be left for clear nights and high school dates not building the core of a football team.

      Reply
  17. Seminole Warrior

    Like many, I had very high hopes for TD when he came to Atlanta. His first moves, Turner and Ryan, were outstanding.

    But since then, even the JJ11 trade, have been suspect. The team has not recovered from the picks lost in that deal. I really think that he is in over his head and the addition of Scott Pioli was nothing more than a last gasp “Patriot Way” life line.

    But then, in the midst of the disappointing 2014 rerun of the B movie known as the 2013 season, a little something emerged behind the scenes. The front office found a new card to play on the fans who were so frustrated in Atlanta. They also found a new fall guy in Mike Smith.

    Introducing “Starbucks East”…..

    Yes, let me introduce you to “Starbucks East”, the replacement phrase for the former “Patriot Way South”. Starbucks East actually, before taking root in Atlanta, began as Patriot Way Central in some small manner in Kansas City, on January 13, 2013. That is the day that Kansas City hired the new replacement for fired GM Scott Pioli. Former Seattle director of player personnel John Dorsey was brought in. A rookie GM (Dorsey) was paired with a veteran, successful head coach (Reid). The formula for success looked good. KC made the playoffs in 2013.

    At the same time as Pioli was being replaced in KC, his understudy in Atlanta was beginning to see his golden image take some serious hits. He would have the support of his owner as he replaced his OFFENSIVE and DEFENSIVE coordinators after a disappointing 2013 season. Veterans Mike Nolan and Dirk Koetter were brought in to “take” the next steps in the evolution of the Process and push Atlanta into the upper tier of the league. The Falcons looked lost and the team finished the year with a very disappointing season. No major changes were made even though it was clear that there were MAJOR cracks in the armor on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

    Ironically, both teams would continue to go in differing directions in 2014. Kansas City began to unload some of the underachieving talent in place there and began to look towards the future as it started to re-build its team. They finished second in their division with a 9-7 record. Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Pioli arrived as the new assistant GM. Was this a move geared to really improving the operation of the Falcons? Makes you wonder when you think that TD DID NOT KNOW or DID NOT CARE to notice (and perhaps Arthur Blank as well) the salary cap mess that had been left in Kansas City. This mess to this day is still a major issue as Andy Reid and Dorsey attempt to move the team forward there.

    With STRONG influence from Pioli, Atlanta invested HEAVILY in defensive free agents in an attempt to get more physical and implement a new scheme that would “spring board” the team back to the success it had recently enjoyed. The moves, in the eyes of may, backfired in a big way. Patriot Way South actually regressed even in many ways in the eyes of most in the football world.

    With a new stadium now in pocket and the need to satisfy restless natives, the Falcons had to do something. But unlike Kansas City, where the ENTIRE front office was cleared out, here in Atlanta, they chose a selective firing (sacrifice) and a front office restructure. The CFA, Mike Smith, was sacrificed but lauded as a hero; one that gave us an incredible run and restored respect to our franchise. All the right things were said but there was one glaring point of order. The CFA’s partner in this endeavor, TD, was retained. Retained and given a new set of duties in the re-structured front office; duties, in some measure, he had show an inept ability to handle over the last two years. It was very odd to the fan; fire the most successful coach in the franchise’s history but retain the VERY GM whose moves possibly laid the foundation for the lack of recent success that the CFA had.

    Well, what now? Ahhhhhhhhh, time for a coffee. I got to get you excited. I got to get you pumped. I got to go to the “hot commodity”. Many thought it would be Rex Ryan. Other got behind other candidates. But it appears the Falcons had their target on the screen LONG before any of us KNEW who in the hell he really was.

    And they chose to go to the Pacific Northwest, the HOTBED of NFL football, to find the new captain for the damaged USS Falcon.

    “DQ” is now “Starbucks East”. And the franchise takes over the space formerly occupied by Patriot Way South.

    Dan Quinn was chosen, from the successful Starbucks headquarters, to be the new leader of the franchise in Atlanta. And like the setup in KC, the power would be shared among the GM and the new head coach with a “cloudy” view of who actually has the final word.

    Amazing how this stuff all come around……

    Reply
  18. Seminole Warrior

    See, we have tried to be the Patriots. FAILED AT THAT..

    We have tried to be “explosive” like Green Bay. GREAT Success against the weaker teams only to be MIA against the better teams.

    We have tried to be a tougher team. FAILED.

    And now we seek to be fast and physical. TO BE DETERMINED.

    What are we though? Adrift. Seeking a vision and a destination.

    But the USS Falcon has a new captain and we will give him a fair chance to right this ship. After all, what more can we do, right?

    Reply
  19. Grits Blitz

    SW – Bravo, kudos, wonderful, and clear on the very truthful TD backwash and insistence by A.B. to keep these 2 “paper weights” employed to do the heavy lifting! Floating the ship without a rudder is begging for a beaching…I’m bitching!

    As for “football” players, hope you can scout us a Hardy Brown for LB or DB! The man surely knew how to bring the leverage with some of those patented “sleeper” pops when he unloaded his shoulder! Like the Marines, we could use a few of those good, tough “football” players, too!

    Reply
  20. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Seminole Warrior (2/16 @ 1:15 pm) – That’s my philosophy also…. select the best player available at a position. Don’t draft LB’s if they suck…

    Reply
  21. Dewey

    SW,

    It’s funny. I’m starting to think King Arthur is not the genius that many (not on these pages) portray him to be. The best owners rule with an iron fist, stay out of the way, but have a clear cut business plan for their franchises. That’s not to say they don’t tweak it now and then, that’s survival. All the King does is try and copy and buy his way to the top. New England rules the draft? Hire one of theirs. That doesn’t work? Hire another one. Team not playing well? Hire a coach from the 2 time Super Bowl participants.

    I would have much more respect for the man if he tried his own ways and consistently failed rather than standing on the shoulders of others to reach greater heights.

    And while I’m at it, it’s often been speculated that when Dimwitt was hired, Smitty was forced down his throat. As I recall, the hiring of Smitty was a swift one. No anticipation, just all of the sudden, Falcons have hired a new Coach. 2 things I’ve noticed over the last 7 seasons. Smitty is a very weak minded man. Dimwitt is very good at reading people. I think Dimwitt met one on one with all of the then coaching candidates, and immediately knew Smitty was one he could manipulate. I believe Smitty was Dimwitt’s choice because he knew he could pull whatever strings he wanted without any push back from the HC.

    Reply
  22. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Seminole Warrior (2/16 @ 1:57 pm) – It makes sense to build over time through the draft unless you are Arthur Blank. He promised to bring Atlanta a Super Bowl winner & his personal window is closing (age 72). He’s a multi- billionaire so $150 mill or so still leaves him a few billion. He’s 72 and he can’t take it with him.. We’ve been making this more complicated than it is. Blank’s #1 goal is to win the Super Bowl and he isn’t concerned about $$$$. I believe he’s got 3 years max to accomplish his goal. He’s doesn’t have the patience to build over time. He’s going to move out those that aren’t contributing and replace them with Free Agents or Trades. So don’t be surprised if Tyson Jackson hits the road no matter the loss. I’m on record now of thinking this “rebuild” is going to be short term (2-3 yrs max).

    Reply
  23. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Following my theme of a short term rebuild (3 yrs or less)… TD is still with the Falcons because Arthur Blank doesn’t have time to completely rebuild the “front office” and the team. It will take to long to start completely over. Beside – with the HC reporting directly to AB, TD’s power has been neutered. He’s a figure head… AB is now the real GM. Reminds me of when Ted Turner took over running the Braves before he finally came to his senses and found real management.

    Reply
  24. waynester

    Everybody in the NFL is talented–probably the best player on every team they were ever a part of–but some men just WANT IT MORE. There are lots of slot receivers–Wes Welker just wanted it more. Tuggle wanted it more. Beast Mode wants it more. That’s what separates the great from the pretty good…desire and will….You can’t measure those things at the combine or with “advanced metrics” you have to learn the man. That’s the job of the Scout. Go past the 40 times and look at results. Find out which guys come early and leave late. Discover who’s hungry to be the best– not the best-paid. Perhaps our GM is getting faulty intel but it’s up to him to know his scouts are aware of the kind of man he’s looking for. Lionel Vital has been in scouting for a long time and has been with some of the smartest drafting teams in the league: NE under Belicheck and at the Ravens with Ozzie. It’s hard for me to believe he’s the problem but it can’t be discounted since he’s been integral to our player evaluations since TD got here. I’m more inclined to believe that it starts at the top with the draft for need vs BPA or some amalgam of both. Mr. Blank appears amenable to amalgamations. From the oddball division of authority in the FO to the coaching hierarchy to the crosstraining of our players we’ve developed some Unorthodox practices for a good Jewish Mensch like Artie B. The Buck stops on his desk. That’s the bottom line. I’m convinced he wants to build a winner here in ATL–I’m no longer convinced it’ll happen. It’s better than it’s ever been–and I’ve been diehard since 1965–but the nagging doubts have gotten louder over the last couple of years and I need some convincing before I plunk down my “widow’s mite” for tickets, much less a PSL ! Convince me Arthur! I WANT TO BELIEVE!

    Reply
  25. Flo-Ri-Duh

    The combine is important for various reasons. #1 It confirms the measurables: height, weight, 40 time, cone drill , etc. #2 It confirms their football IQ.

    Reply
  26. JB Falcon

    Wayne, ” Perhaps our GM is getting faulty intel but it’s up to him to know his scouts are aware of the kind of man he’s looking for.”
    Also, perhaps the GM is setting the wrong guidelines because the GM is a stupid azzhole when it comes to picking quality players.

    Reply
  27. Flo-Ri-Duh

    SW – I should clear up something I said earlier. I compared the current AB “management” situation with Ted Turner’s management takeover of the Braves years ago. With Turner the result was awful…. he knew very little about baseball. I don’t expect the same results from AB. He does understand football & played CB in high school.

    Reply
  28. Dewey

    I was fine with Dimwitt as GM up until the point he traded up to draft Sam Baker. Yes, that was Dimwitt’s first draft, and 2nd pick. We had 4 picks out of the top 64. Dimwitt pissed one away to get Sam Baker (a need pick by the way). I wouldn’t have cared if Baker would have become the next Mike Kenn. How often do you get 4 picks in the first 2 rounds of a draft??!!!! And Dimwitt has done nothing, NOTHING since then to change my opinion of him. What does this mean to King Arthur? Absolutely nothing. But I will never be able to go “all in” on my beloved Falcons as long as Dimwitt has anything to do with the franchise.

    Reply
    1. Dewey

      Need to clear something up, when I say I wouldn’t have cared if Baker became the next Mike Kenn, that means I would still think it was a stupid move regardless.

      Reply
  29. Greg Mendel

    Kudos, Cage. I’ve spent the past three weeks reading and being informed and entertained by your posts. Haven’t posted much, because I’m in the midst of a physical overhaul. One angioplasty and seven minor (minor, my a$$!) surgeries for skin cancers. Not looking for sympathy (everything will be okay), but sincere thanks for the diversion. I’ll post a recipe or something soon.

    WHERE’S DARRELL!!

    Reply
      1. JB Falcon

        Greg, Hospitals rank right up there with Jail and IRS Audit offices, I try to avoid all of ’em. Only thing is, nothing good ever comes out of being in jail or the IRS. Hospitals are like a necessary evil but that don’t make me like ’em.

        Reply
  30. Nelson

    Greg 8:02pjm. – You are not alone. I have two more days of chemo for skin cancer. Ever set your face on fire? Also had the course in bypass surgery, 15 yrs ago. So hang tough. Best of luck.

    Reply

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