FLOWERY BRANCH — Falcons first-round pick Sean Weatherspoon agreed to five year contract on Thursday, the team confirmed.
Weatherspoon, a linebacker from Missouri, is set to sign the deal before the team meeting which is scheduled for 7 p.m. He was the 19th player selected in the 2010 NFL draft.
Most of the Falcons pulled up to the amenities building in their luxury cars to check into the living quarters for training camp earlier in the day.
But Weatherspoon was not one of them because the team and his agent were still hammering out his contract.
With Weatherspoon in the fold, the Falcons have all of their rookies signed and will have all 80 players when they hit field for their first practice Friday morning.
Earlier in the week, Falcons coach Mike Smith said he was optimistic that the Weatherspoon deal would get done
before camp opened.
Progress was made during the negotiations on Wednesday and with a big push Thursday morning, Weatherspoon’s deal was completed.
“There hasn’t really been a lot of action throughout the first and second rounds,” Smith said. “But of course, the closer that you get to the reporting date, you’ll start to see more and more guys sign.”
Under the current regime, three of the four first round picks have been signed in time for the opening of training camp.
With the owners’ meeting in town, the Falcons signed Matt Ryan in May of 2008, months before training camp opened.
Last year, Peria Jerry was signed on the Thursday just before the start of camp on Saturday.
However, in 2008, Sam Baker’s first-round deal hit a last minute snag. He agreed to a contract late Friday night, but the contract was not approved by the league in time for Baker to start practice early Saturday.
Baker had to go upstairs and wait in an office until his contract was approved.
Baker joined the team one hour and 12 minutes after the first practice started. He was selected with the 21st pick, two picks behind where Weatherspoon was selected.
Over the offseason, the Falcons trained Weatherspoon at both outside linebacker positions. He will be expected to compete for a starting position.
“When you start to add the talent level and skill set of a first round draft pick to the linebacker corps, that position is going to be very, very competitive,” Smith said. “I think Sean can play all three, but right now we have basically spent our time training Sean at our outside linebacker position.”
Smith said the team will no longer make a distinction between the strongside or weakside linebacker position. Last season, Mike Peterson started at the weakside position and Stephen Nicholas started at the strongside position.
Peterson turned 34 in June, but played for Smith in Jacksonville. Nicholas was a first-time starter last season, but was drafted as a weakside linebacker by the previous regime.
“Is he a (strongside) or (weakside)?” Smith said. “He’s an outside linebacker. By cross training him and giving him that workload in (the offseason) is going to be beneficial because you’ve got to be able to do the same techniques if you are (strongside) linebacker or (weakside). I think more and more you’re seeing more team developing their outside linebackers to be able t play multiple spots.”