I wrote this up today. Check it out here about the Falcons off-season. http://profootballspot.com/_/nfl/nfc-so ... anta-r1875
I’ve taken a mini vacation from writing about Falcons football. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in trying to erase the 2013 season from my memory. I’ll be back for the next seven to eight weeks to cover the off-season moves for Atlanta. That will be the boom period, where releases and additions will be made. Shockingly enough, Atlanta wasted little time and released two players last Wednesday.
I’ll still be breaking down a list of players that should stay or be let go. Obviously I’m not going to go through the entire roster. I basically chose players who are either free agents or have uncertain futures in Atlanta due to underachieving. I’ll review the players, then decide if they will stay from my perspective and then look at it from Thomas Dimitroff’s perspective.
The reason why I’ll only be consistently writing for the next eight weeks or so is because I’m NFL oriented. I’ve never gotten into college football, due to their lack of a true playoff system. Therefore why bother writing about potential draft picks, when I haven’t watched them all year long. It would be foolish of me and I’d be wasting your time. I’ll give you a few accounts to follow that are draft related towards the Falcons. These are all friends of mine, who are excellent writers that watched college football on a weekly basis. They are @falcfans, @TMeltonScouting, @ScottCarasik
Steven Jackson- I’m almost certain that he will be the starting running back in 2014, as he should be. Atlanta fans may complain about his speed and age. Those are fair critiques, but Jackson isn’t someone who is going to carry the ball more than 20 times a game at the maximum. He’s still someone that can get you those tough yards, along with providing a spark in the backfield. Hopefully this year, he’ll have an NFL starting caliber offensive line to run behind. Should stay/Will stay.
Jason Snelling- This is a tricky situation because of the emergence of Antoine Smith. You know Jacquizz Rodgers is a lock to stay because he brings so much value as a receiver out of the backfield. I’m still going to lean towards Snelling staying, which I have no problem with. He’s very versatile and never complains about a lack of playing time. If Atlanta had any belief in Smith, they would have given more opportunities down the stretch. Snelling may get cut after 2014 since he’ll be 31, but for now he’s still an asset. Should stay/Will stay.
Chase Coffman- He had so much hype coming out of college. At Missouri, he was breaking school records and had experience splitting out wide, while still being productive. Injuries have played a huge factor into his lack of success, but also his lack of speed. Since they have a lot of stock in Levine Toilolo’s development and will look to add a tight end in the off-season, there won’t be much value in bringing Coffman back. Usually you want your third string tight end to be a good blocker, which Coffman isn’t very good at. Should go/Will go.
Garrett Reynolds- One of the few Falcons that should be released instantly. For the past three years, he’s started out the season well before eventually declining or getting injured. Why the Falcons were so infatuated with starting a mediocre player at best for the past three years is beyond me. He was benched on multiple occasions last year, along with being a healthy scratch in week 17. The writing is on the wall for Reynolds. Should go/Will go.
Joe Hawley- His comeback story actually falls under the radar, since the offensive line was so horrendous. After he flopped as a right guard in 2011, the Falcons drafted Peter Konz and expected him to anchor the offensive line when Todd McClure retired. Hawley gets an opportunity to start, after Konz gets benched for his poor play. Hawley made the most of it and was one of the few bright spots. After not playing much in 2012 and early 2013, he salvaged his career in Atlanta. You can expect him to go into training camp as the starting center. Should stay/Will stay.
Peter Konz- The only thing saving Konz is being drafted in the second round. Don’t forget he was drafted in 2012 and was essentially there first pick, since they gave up their first round pick in 2011 for Julio Jones. Konz was manhandled as a center this year, before going back to right guard and not faring much better. His lack of strength was evident, along with overall technique. Atlanta still has stock in Konz and I’m sure they will have Mike Tice work with him extensively this off-season. For now, I’d keep him just because he’s headed into his third season. Every draft pick deserves three years to show if they deserve to stay or not. Should stay/Will stay.
Mike Johnson- This is another tricky situation. Johnson has been rattled by injuries, where he’s landed on IR in 2011 and 2013. It was a shame because last year was the perfect year to showcase himself, as a potential starter for the future. Now it’s uncertain if the Falcons want to even give him another chance. He showed promise as a swing tackle in 2012, especially late in the season. There is no harm in resigning him, since he will be cheap. I’d give him a one-year “prove yourself” deal just for depth purposes and to see if he can put it all together. I do believe they will do that. Should stay/Will stay.
Cliff Matthews- Here is another player that has zero value left. Matthews failed as an edge rusher in 2012. He lacked speed and seemed to be one-dimensional in constantly bull rushing. Then he put on size and tried to transition into a defensive tackle, which was an even bigger flop. With the defensive line being revamped, it needs to get rid of all of their dead weight. Matthews is the epitome of dead weight on the Falcons defensive line. Will the organization realize that though? After drafting Malliciah Goodman and Stanley Maponga last year, it shows they have no use for Matthews as an edge rusher. He was constantly being pushed backwards as a tackle, so it does seem likely Atlanta will move on from him although it’s not a lock. Should go/Will go.
Osi Umenyiora- When he was signed, I wasn’t celebrating but was moderately happy. It was either Osi or Dwight Freeney, when it came to veteran pas rushers on the market. My expectations for him would be to basically replace John Abraham’s production from 2011-2012 by being close to double-digit sacks, along with providing a presence on a weekly basis. He did neither and was invisible through long phases of the season. It wasn’t like I was expecting him to go back to his 2009 form of being a top ten pass rusher. His play was still extremely disappointing that he couldn’t even play up to the expectations of a 36 year-old Abraham (Atlanta misses you dearly). I’m sure Osi will stay, because the coaching staff believes he can still be a playmaker as a third down pass rusher. He’s being paid too much to be just that. If Atlanta released him, they wouldn’t be missing much besides a guy who shows up every now and then. Should go/Will stay.
Peria Jerry- He showed glimpses of being productive this season. There were times that Jerry shined, whether it was a sack or making a play in the backfield. Those were only glimpses though and those don’t block out all the times that he was manhandled at the line of scrimmage. If Jerry weren’t a first round pick, I’d think there would be a shot he stays. My belief is that Atlanta just wants to move on from Thomas Dimitroff’s biggest bust. While Jerry could be a solid backup, I’d lean towards letting him go as well. I’d like to see players that have upside be the main backups. He doesn’t have anymore upside. Should go/Will go
Jonathan Babineaux- All Atlanta fans want to see him retire as a Falcon. He’s a model of consistency, even though the stat sheet may not prove it. He has been forced to play the edge at times in the past two years, which clearly isn’t a good fit for any true defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme. He’s done it without complaints and still creates havoc on the inside. Due to being 32 years old and Atlanta wanting to be aggressive this off-season, his status will come down to money. If they can work out a two or three year deal for around three million a year, then that would be suitable for him to remain in Atlanta. Babineaux never came off as greedy, so I’ll be surprised if his demands are so high that it scares them away. He’s one of the most well respected players in the organization. Should stay/ Will stay.
Corey Peters- This is the biggest lock to stay out of everyone on the list. Peters had a breakout season in 2013 showing that he’s ready to be the anchor for the interior base of Atlanta’s defense for years to come. He had five sacks on the season, along with consistently taking on double teams. Unfortunately for him, he tore his Achilles in late December so that may cost him a few millions. Regardless if the injury had occurred or not, this is the Falcons biggest priority to re-sign. They are going to make sure to keep a rising star entering his prime. Should stay/Will stay.
Stephen Nicholas- I’ll include my thoughts on Nicholas here. It simply came down to money on why he was released. There is still value in having Nicholas around, as a top backup and special teams player. He was always an above average run stopper. I would have liked to see Atlanta use him like they used Mike Peterson in 2011-2012. Unfortunately he was making around three million a year, which is too much money for a backup. I’d still like to see him back, even though a pay cut would be necessary. Should have stayed/Released.
Akeem Dent- He has already been in Atlanta for three years and has been demoted to a backup role. Since he’s hit that three year capacity of a draft pick, eventually it’s time to make the decision of whether he still has value or not. He’s never made much of an impact, which is why I’d like to see them move on from him. He does bring some value on special teams, but there doesn’t seem to be much upside left in Dent. He’s a liability in coverage and tends to overcommit at times as a run defender. For some reason, Atlanta seems to like him and want him around for depth purposes. Should go/Will stay
Asante Samuel- I’ll include my thoughts on Samuel here. This was more of a personnel decision, along with financial reasoning. He was supposed to make around four million this year. Then you have to add on the fact that Desmond Trufant played like a star last year, while Robert Alford showed great potential. Samuel became expendable after both rookies shined last year. He is still a starting caliber cornerback, but you can’t knock Atlanta for making this move. They do need to add a veteran cornerback that is willing to accept a backup role. Samuel isn’t that kind of player, nor should he be obligated into a backup role. He can still play at a high level. Should have gone/Released
Robert McClain- He will be entering a make or break year. He was outstanding in 2012 when he locked down the nickel back position. Last year, he was burned on a weekly basis. McClain tends to struggle against speed receivers, which isn’t a good element to have covering an opposing team’s slot receiver. I’m not going to be over-critical and believe he should be cut after one poor season. The smart move would be to bring in a veteran cornerback (not named Dunta Robinson) and have him compete with McClain. The organization will give him one more season to prove himself. Should stay/Will stay
Thomas DeCoud- One of the few locks that will definitely be released. DeCoud is a tough player to judge, because he’s been very inconsistent in his career. In 2009-2010, he was solid. Then in 2011, he was benched on multiple occasions before becoming one of the playmakers on Atlanta’s defense in 2012. This year he was an absolute disaster by missing open field tackles on a consistent basis and being out of position on deep throws. You don’t want to be too critical after one terrible season, but he doesn’t have any upside left. Their defense clearly needs to rebuild from the debacle last year. He was one of the main culprits for the defense becoming a punch line. This should be an easy decision for the organization. Should go/Will go.
You can follow me on twitter at @Allen_Strk