Falcons wave goodbye to L.J. Smith

L.J. Smith and Falcons need to put a ring on it. Let the marriage begin.

Like Beyonce (above) sings about in her hit song, it doesn't appear that L.J. Smith and the Falcons will be putting a ring on it. The marriage is over before it started.

A little basketball break was in order.

Been zipping back and forth to Macon and to see Whitefield Academy claim its second Class A boys state title. Hats off to AD John East and coach Tyrone Johnson and the rest of his staff. (Full disclosure: one of the Ledbetter girls cheers for the J.V. squad. Got to support the Wolfpack.)

Also, had to watch some of the conference tournament games to get ready for the Big Dance.

While I was off getting my basketball fix, the Falcons and tight end L.J. Smith were still square dancing at the Free Agency Ball. But the waltz appears over, according to a source close to the negotiations. Smith’s lack of blocking ability isn’t a scheme fit for the run happy Falcons.

The dancing is finally over and in the words of Beyonce Knowles they are not going to be putting a ring on this once blooming marriage.

Smith’s options were down to Detroit and Atlanta. It seemed like the Falcons would easily be the winner. But Smith dragged his feet and the Falcons had a change of heart. In the end, they are a running team and Smith doesn’t block. That’s what football teams call “a bad scheme fit.”

Now, as far as the Falcons are concerned, they could have put a “Waffle House – Pancake” clause in Smith’s contract.

A little incentive clause for pancake blocks could have been a good motivator for Smith. They could have started at $200,000 after five pancakes and another $350,000 after 10 pancakes and so on.

That way Smith would have had added incentive to block and the Falcons offense would not have suffered when he was in the game.

In an ideal world, you need the tight end to block and catch. Maybe the Falcons could have made Smith go with offensive line coach Paul Boudreau and his assistant Paul Dunn during mini-camps. Those two could have got him re-dedicated to the blocking game.

LET’S JUMP AROUND A LITTLE BIT

MILLOY UPDATE: Former safety Lawyer Milloy has been in some initial talks with teams, according to his agent Todd France.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Falcons were represented at West Virginia’s pro day last week. Quarterback Pat White attracted most of the attention, but linebacker Mortty Ivy was of some interest.

He’s a smart kid, who played quarterback in high school. He helped himself by running a faster 40 time than the 4.88 he ran at the scouting combine. He’s 6-foot-1, 248-pounds and played weakside at West Virginia. Some consider him a strongside linebacker in the NFL.

A couple of key pro day stops for the Falcons this week are Pittsburgh on Tuesday and the University of Georgia on Thursday.

NCAA TOURNEY TIPS: Well it is March and what would the blog be without a tournament tip or two.

Wake Forest will have to deal with Cleveland State's Cedric Jackson.

Wake Forest will have to deal with Cleveland State's Cedric Jackson.

Take Cleveland State in the first round. They have a really nice point guard in Cedric Jackson. You must have a point guard to pull off a tournament shocker.

The Vikings were one of the tournament’s original Cinderella teams. Back in 1986 Ken “The Mouse” McFadden, Clinton Smith (the pride of Cleveland Audubon Junior High and John Adams High) and Clinton Ransey shocked the world when they upset Bobby Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers. Big Ten purists insist that the Hoosiers haven’t been the same since and note that they had to go with JUCOs like Keith Smart to win the title in 1987. They have not won a title since.

My man Tom Crean will get the Hoosiers moving back in the right direction. Just hope he doesn’t start wearing red sweaters.

As a matter of fact, even with Mick Cronin still working on getting Cincinnati Bearcats turned around, the Buckeye state is flushed with five tournament teams: CSU, Ohio State, Dayton, Xavier and Akron. Only Xavier appears capable of a deep run, though.

QUARTERACK MARKET: The news out of Denver about the cat fight between head coach Josh Daniels and Jay Cutler is not good news for the Falcons.

That adds one more quarterback to the open market at a time when they are trying to shop the rights to Michael Vick.

There’s plenty of more hoops to watch this week. Thursday and Friday are the best to college basketball days of the year.

Fired up about the tournament? (Or are you a depressed Kentucky fan?) Since the Smith deal is not going down, what will the Falcons do for a pass catching tight end? We’ve got some time before the draft, but it’s looking like the Falcons will go heavy on defense – safety, cornerback and defensive tackle look like the top priorities. Who would you like to see them pick? Would the Waffle House Pancake clause have worked for Smith?

140 comments Add your comment

Reggie

March 16th, 2009
11:56 am

D-Led

If the falcons sign LJ Smith, is there a chance that the Falcons take another Tight End in the draft?

SUPERMAN

March 16th, 2009
11:58 am

Maybe TD should stop acting like freeagency DIVA (Beyonce) and sign some mid class high talent players like he said he would. Its to many CB and Safty’s floatin around out there that could have a falcon on their head in a few months!!!

Magnus23

March 16th, 2009
12:51 pm

LJ Smith is not much of an upgrade over Justin Peele … and the TE postion is pretty deep in this year’s draft.

Smart move.

J. Whit

March 16th, 2009
12:53 pm

Makes much more sense to me to give the TEs we have a real chance – coach them into blockers and spend draft picks on defense and maybe some more offensive line motor graders.

[...] Falcons wave goodbye to LJ Smith [...]

hawesg

March 16th, 2009
1:10 pm

Well, Amen to Smith not coming. To me this was always a downside of not filling defensive holes through free agency. Rather than take one of the many talented TEs in the draft, they HAD to take defensive players with their first three picks. Sadly, I’m not sure there are any good defensive FA left. So we’ll get maybe a starting DB, DL and TE out of this draft and try to patch the other holes as best we can with the warm bodies on the team already.

Still, not wasting money and a roster post on LJ Smith is a good non-move.

Poor McKay

March 16th, 2009
1:40 pm

It was a bad scheme fit from the moment they contacted his agent. Why did they bother to “dance” with him at all? When are the Falcons holding their OTAs and any word if Trey Lewis is healthy enough to participate?

wow !!!

March 16th, 2009
1:41 pm

RENO 911…ouch. Sorry you had to go through that. One thing you will learn around here is freedom of expression comes at a cost. One the AJC from time to time does not pay.

D3

March 16th, 2009
1:42 pm

Great news on not picking up LJ Smith. Something seemed a little fishy how there were these random reports that Smith was coming to Atlanta, but nothing official anywhere. I also thought that he wasn’t coming because it took way too long for something to happen. Last year, when the falcons really wanted somebody (i.e. Turner) they got him wrapped up. As I was saying last night, this year’s draft is too deep to add an average TE, who has great talent but is hurt way too much.

Starting to think its looking like Pettigrew or Matthews, assuming Peria Jerry, BJ Raji, or Cushing are gone. Over at Falcons.com, the summary of mock drafts had the Falcons taking Pettigrew or Matthews the most.

I know we need defense, but if Pettigrew is available I say grab him. If not, take a chance on Matthews or Maybin. CB and SS’s that would be available are not worth a #24 pick in my opinion. And besides Raji and Jerry, DT not either. I’ll take a Ron Brace in the 3rd round anyday.

Scenario A
1)Pettigrew – TE 2)Chung – SS 3) Brace – DT 4)Asher Allen – CB

Scenario B
1) Matthews – OLB 2)Chung – SS 3)Cook or Nelson – TE 4)Hill – DT

This Gets Old

March 16th, 2009
1:45 pm

Reno911, dude if what you say happened really did happen why are you still on the blog? How do you know that DOL did this? I mean in reality people are coming to read the writers aren’t they?

wow !!!

March 16th, 2009
1:53 pm

This Gets Old … If,” in reality people are coming to read the writers aren’t they?”…Why are you commenting on what other bloggers say?

Brian Hunt

March 16th, 2009
2:03 pm

Reno 911…Get a life. In regards to not signing Smith, I think it’s probably the right move. He was only worth signing if he came cheap. He previously played in a pass happy scheme and never really lit it up, so he had minimal value to the Falcons anyway.

Falcon Devil

March 16th, 2009
2:06 pm

I’ve asked this question before and seen someone else ask it. If Andre Smith is still availible at 24 would it be worth the risk to potentially have the best tackle combo in the NFL?

This Gets Old

March 16th, 2009
2:19 pm

The Falcons do have needs on offense too. And if they were to get two defensive starters in one draft I’d be amazed. If you pay attention to how the Patriots (why they get mentioned here so much puzzles me because TD wasn’t calling shots there but is here) do business they sign a number of free agents.

Signing a TE is important because it’s proven to be difficult for Atlanta to score down in the red zone and it makes it more difficult to double Roddy White all of the time. Couple that with Turner’s weakness in the passing game and you’re restricting the QB. One of the worst things about last year may have been acquiring Foxworth so late. A lot of people act as if Fox wanted money from our personal accounts. Question: How often does Ozzie Newsome miss on players like this?

ndadome

March 16th, 2009
2:30 pm

I’m somewhat relieved that we won’t be signing Smith. .don’t know why exactly. Has anyone else read the scoop on Connor Barwin, DE, from Cincinnati? He’s been compared to Mike Vrabel of NE/KC. Probably not first round material, but sounds like a great prospect.

I’m still a little surprised that we’re not hearing anything about Freddie Keiaho, the LB from Indy. Of course, it’s still pretty early in free agency. I’m like you guys. . .I want something to happen. .now!

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
2:34 pm

Matthews is not the choice the Birds should make in the first round. He is a one year wonder, living off the the reputations of his bloodlines and USC. My picks are as follows:

1. SS

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
2:38 pm

My picks are: 1) SS Patrick Chung 2) OLB Marcus Freeman 3)TE Shawn Nelson GO FALCONS!!!

Halsey

March 16th, 2009
2:43 pm

I don’t think they serve pancakes at Waffle House. Just sayin.

[...] Atlanta Journal-Constitution Reports L.J. Smith Not Signing With Falcons [...]

Please

March 16th, 2009
2:44 pm

To everyone here that thinks the Falcons are going to pick a TE in the first or second round, don’t get your hopes up. Our offensive scheme does not prioritize the TE position, unlike San Diego or Dallas. You may say that is because we don’t have a pass-catching TE, which is true, but if you look at Mike Mularky’s couching history then you will see that he has never had a TE average more than 40 catches a year. Instead, we should simply pick best player available, regardless of position.

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
2:45 pm

Excellent points Please….

I MUS.WRITE

March 16th, 2009
2:52 pm

Nice picture D LED…. Now if we could get one of her in that birthday suit. Im glad we didnt sign LJ, he is often injured and drops the ball way too much for my liking. Also there are better TE’s in the draft right now. Heres my take on our draft

1. I would try to trade down for extra picks -our first for a 2nd /3rd

2nd-DT Hood/ D Scott (who ever is available)
2nd-SS Moore/ Chung/ R. Johnson
3rd-TE J Cook/ James Casey
3rd-LB Z follett/ G Mcrath
4th -CB Butler /A Allen
5th DT….OT
6th LB

If no trade down is available

1st- Delmas/ Mathews
2nd- DT-Z.Hood
3rd- CB- Mickens
4th-TE Coffman/ Cook/ Casey
5th DT J Gillbert/ S Lee hill
6th Ol A Gardner

I sure hope we dont spend a 1st on Pettigrew…….. Lets Go TD GIT R DUN LOL

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
2:54 pm

I prefer Chung but I would rather see us take Pettigrew over Matthews. I’m just not sold on the kid.

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
2:55 pm

Nelson of USM offers the best blocking skills outside of Pettigrew and he is a big target…a fourth WR if you look at it.

D3

March 16th, 2009
3:08 pm

I MUS, like the idea of drafting down for more picks. Good list of draft picks you have there. I’d rather grab Nelson or Cook in the 3rd because I don’t think they’ll drop to the fourth. If we’re going the SS/CB/DT route, none of the guys that will be available are worth a #24 pick. Unless Vontae Davis, Malcom Jenkins, BJ Raji, or Perry Jeria drop, the rest of the DT’s or CB’s aren’t worth a first round pick. I just don’t see that any in the SS group is worth #24. Is there really that much difference between Delmas and Rashad Johnson or Patrick Chung?

Seminole, like your TE Shawn Nelson pick in the 3rd, but have to disagree with you on drafting SS first round. I like the Patrick Chung pick and thats who I think we should snag, but not until the second round. And as far Matthews, I think he has more upside than Cushing. He had a faster 40 time and seems to have a chance to continue to improve, whereas Cushing may have potentially maxed out.

Tyger

March 16th, 2009
3:08 pm

**Just Say No**

LJ Smith isnt the answer. He had a couple good years in Philly with Don McNabb and their spread offense. Falcoons run the ball and need a TE that can do both. Inserting LJ only signals to the defense that a pass is coming their way.

I think TE are overrated anyway. Notice the small market for Tony Gonzalez – here sits an All-pro TE with a $10M per salary that nobody will touch. I think a good one can be had in the draft or free agency, certainly not 1st-3rd, too many other holes to fill.

Increasingly, I think the Falcoons should move down in the draft. Pickings are pretty slim at 24: DT, Peria Jerry, DB, Sean Smith, LB, Brian Cushing. If we dont get those frontrunners, we need to move back from the 1st and up from the 5th.

There’s very good talent in the 2-4 rounds that fill our needs: The two #5s could be combined with the #1, turning 3 picks into 5-6 picks, between rds. 2-4, which could give us the depth and young legs on both sides of the ball.

I not convinced that the talent available at the bottom of the 1st rd. is any better than that in the 2nd-3rd rds. In that case, you might as well move down.

Along with defensive secondary help, we still need a OL, TE and an extraordinary talents available.

Its clear we’re not going to spend money in free agency to address needs, so stockpile the picks.

D3

March 16th, 2009
3:10 pm

I agree with you on Pettigrew. If given the choice between Pettigrew and Matthews, I’d say Pettigrew.

YuleeFalcon

March 16th, 2009
3:12 pm

….wow DOL, I thought I clicked the College Basketball link and not the Falcon’s link. I know news is slow, but come on. Football is king.

Anyway, Has there been any word out of ATL (positive or negative) on Ken Lucas. I figure we can sign him to a veteran minimum and let him exact revenge twice a year on Steve Smith. I am not saying start the guy, but let him compete for Nickel-back. Once players start getting injured in pre-season work-outs and games, it may be too late. Just saying.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 16th, 2009
3:13 pm

RENO911: I took it down. No problem. Will take the rest of them down later. Got three rules. 1) Don’t come on my blog trying to clown me. I don’t come to your job and heckle you for being on my blog. Seems pretty reasonable to me. 2) Watch the race stuff and keep y’all from fighting over that. 3)Keep the focus on football. You want to talk football, you’ll always be welcome.

HALSEY: Checking on the pancakes at Waffle House. I should have said IHOP.

PHILLIP SHARP: DLED has manned up a long time ago. Do your homework. Like Coach Smitty said, you’ve got to cross train. A little hoops and football mixes well at this time of the year.

MORE HOOPS: As for basketball, forgot to give a shout out to my man Todd Bozeman for getting the Golden Bears of Morgan State to the Big Dance. Bozeman served an eight-year NCAA probation after the Cal program misdeeds. Good luck in the tourney!!!

I MUS.WRITE: Glad you like the picture.

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
3:13 pm

D3, Chung is the best safety in the draft and he will not make it through to our pick in the second. SS is a position of critical need for us and we should get him sooner rather than later. After that, the flexibility in the safety position drops off dramatically; either all pass or all run. TD and Smitty like flexibility and taking Chung would allow us to keep DeCoud in place as our primary ST gunner.

hawesg

March 16th, 2009
3:19 pm

There does seem to be some wisdom in trading down a bit. Of course, as long as they draft GOOD players, it really doesn’t matter who they pick. We have needs to fill.

I wonder if Chris McAllister would be signed for cheap. He’ll only play about 10 game a year, but since we seem to be purusing an Olly Olly Oxen Free approach to the CB position, why not bring a guy who can play some and teach some, too.

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
3:25 pm

Better play out of linebacker corps would allow take some of the pressure off the CBs.It would also open up the safeties to assist in the pass game as well. Speed and versatility are keys in the LB corps. Nicholas should be ready to show his stuff. Peterson is holding down a side for a year until his replacement is ready. Grimes held his own until his injury. Houston needs to be more disciplined. If Hutchins or Irons can challenge him this off season, it may light the needed fire to improve his game.

marcos

March 16th, 2009
3:45 pm

I JUST DONT LIKE THE WORK THEY ARE DOING WE REALLY NEAD A SAFTEY AND A CORNERBACK WHAT ABOUT KEN LUCAS HE STILL THERE OR DARREN SHARPER,THEY SAY MILLOY AGAIN PLEASE NO,WE DID WHAT HE HAD TO BUT ITS OVER AND SLOW,PLEASE GIVE US SOMETHING YO CHEER ABOUT

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 16th, 2009
4:22 pm

YuleeFALCON: YEAH, I know. But as former hoopster of some repute — my old Lightning Led point guard days — it’s hoops time during free agency season. After I get my hoops fix, we’ll plunge head first back into the draft. Haven’t heard anything on Ken Lucas. Just know the Falcons, like most teams, don’t like paying top dollar at the safety spot. My phone has been on and minutes have been used up, but no real news out there on the Birds. Do plan on checking in with Darren Sharper this week. Surprised that he’s still out on the streets. Also, Georgia’s pro day is Thursday.

[...] [Falcons] Falcons Out Of The Running For Free Agent TE L.J. Smith? the Falcons and tight end L.J. Smith were still square dancing at the Free Agency Ball. But the waltz appears over, according to a source close to the negotiations. Smith

Joey563

March 16th, 2009
4:28 pm

DLed: What seems to be the behind the scene story on LJ? Also any news on us going after anyother FA TE’s?

Falcon Devil

March 16th, 2009
4:29 pm

Marcos your grammar is worse than a 2nd graders. “WE REALLY NEAD”?? Normally I think people are nerds for pointing out grammar in a blog but seriously dude… hooked on phonics could work for you too.

FJR

March 16th, 2009
4:30 pm

I think the people on this blog are highly overestimating the value of a late 1st round pick. Its pretty hard to trade a late 1st rounder for a 2nd round pick plus something else. Many GMs would flat rather have a mid 2nd round pick to a late first round pick anyway and wouldn’t trade one for another, even straight up. You basically have to find a team that really wants a specific guy who is available later than they thought he would be to get a lot of value out of a late first round pick. Remember how much flack Dimitroff took for trading up late in teh first round for Baker?

Art Vandelay

March 16th, 2009
4:32 pm

DOL, I have to disagree with your assessment of the Cutler situation. I don’t think the Falcons have a snowball’s chance in hades of finding a team to take Vick’s rights in a trade, so I really doubt that Cutler’s availability changes anything. Vick is owed way too much money on his current contract for a guy who hasn’t played outside the Leavenworth Penal League for two-plus years. I think the rest of the league is just going to wait for Dimitroff to cut the cord on Vick and let him become a free agent…stinks that we have to take the cap hit, but I don’t see that there’s much of an alternative.

Falcon Devil

March 16th, 2009
4:36 pm

I agree Art. Nobody will be willing to pay much for Vick. There are too many questions to invest in him as a starter and there will be a major PR hit to the team that takes him initially. Not to mention Goodell is yet to make his decision on when he can return…

[...] [Falcons] Falcons No Longer Interested In TE L.J. Smith? The Atlanta Falcons and tight end L.J. Smith were still square dancing at the Free Agency Ball. But the waltz appears over, according to a source close to the negotiations. Smith

[...] via Falcons wave goodbye to L.J. Smith | Atlanta Falcons with D. Orlando Ledbetter. [...]

John

March 16th, 2009
4:51 pm

I would like to see the Falcons pursue Leonard Pope. Not just because he’s a former DAWGS but because he’s a good young TE. They could get and mold him. He blocked well and could really catch the ball last time I checked and he’s not used very much in the Arizona offense. It’s just not a TE friendly offense.

TheManMike

March 16th, 2009
4:52 pm

DLed –

You the man, man. Alot of the bloggers are blogging non-stop on other sites as well and dont understand that during an NFL offseason there are times when next to nothing is happening. Cant expect a new blog every day containing nothing can we? dayum.

So whats with the [Falcons] [....] comments?? Seems redundant and exploitative to me.

A hate it, but i also have to agree with the premise of no team trading for Vicks rights when the immanent release is nearing. Actually, has TD or Blank outright said, ever, that they were intending to release Vick at any time? Just wondering….

Tripp Smith

March 16th, 2009
4:53 pm

With regard to Vick – if there are no takers – would ATL attempt to work out a new one or two year deal to retain him as a “multi-purpose” player? I would think it could be REALLY interesting to have him as a back-up QB, slot receiver, tailback, wildcat, etc., to get back up to speed. I would also think that Vick, after doing what he did to the organization and city, would be willing to play at a reduced rate (and still be able to pay-off some debts)in order to get the playing time he so desperately needs. I think the big problem here is that it is TOTALLY UNFAIR that the Falcons should have to take ANY salary cap hit for Vick’s mistakes.

TheManMike

March 16th, 2009
4:57 pm

Tripp -

100% agree with your last point….

hawesg

March 16th, 2009
4:59 pm

FJR, I seem to recall the Falcons moving up into the late first round last year from the early 2nd. If a team, let’s say the Browns, REALLY wants, let’s say Peria Jerry and know he won’t make it past Indy, then they could trade up into the first and down in the third. If the Falcons are content with the talent they can get around pick 34, but really want a better option early in the third… it makes sense for both teams. Again, if that’s what both teams want.

Falcon Devil

March 16th, 2009
4:59 pm

Tripp, MV not only commited horrible acts while a Falcon (and initially liead about it) he destroyed our franchise. The idea of keeping Vick on the roster would be the worst decision the front office could ever make. It would be a circus unlike any other. Not only would there be a QB controversy, there would be a racial controversy due to the city this franchise is located. I’m not trying to attack you Tripp, but keeping Vick would be the stupidest move EVER. Good thing our management is smart and will cut ties from the player who burned the Falcons organization to the ground just two long years ago.

hawesg

March 16th, 2009
5:01 pm

Vick as a wildcat player is interesting, but that bridge in Atlanta is burned. Blank can’t go back on what he said and said repeatedly. Best case, you renegotiate and trade the new contract.

SeminoleWarrior

March 16th, 2009
5:02 pm

Tripp, there is no fairness in American business especially the NFL. Simply put, we should have never paid such a contract to a QB that was still largely unproven. Granted he was the BEST RB not playing running back in the league but we were absolutely silly in that deal. No one is going to offer anything for Vick because they simply can wait us out. We will have no choice but to eat the nearly $38 million guaranteed in the deal. We thus must work the draft now for our long term future.