Falcons don’t plan to use their franchise tag

Tyson Clabo (right), Harvey Dahl and Todd McClure and Justin Blalock (Sam Baker not pictured) received kudos from Coach John Madden. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

Tyson Clabo (right), Harvey Dahl and Todd McClure and Justin Blalock. Clabo, Dahl and Blalock are set to become free agents. (Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com)

The Falcons, who have 14 free agents, do not plan to use their franchise tag.

“We haven’t made our final decision,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “But at this point, our plan is not to use it.”

Several teams have used the franchise tag. New England has tagged guard Logan Mankins, the New York Jets ILB David Harris, San Diego WR Vincent Jackson, Philadelphia QB Michael Vick, Baltimore NT Haloti Ngata and Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning.

The list is expected to grow by the Wed, Feb. 23 deadline.

By putting the “franchise” tag on a player, the Falcons would have the right to match any offer the player receives in free agency or receive two first-round picks as compensation. The player is guaranteed a one-year contract worth the average of the top five players at his position or a 20 percent increase over his 2010 salary, whichever is greater.

Mankins is important because he’s at one the Falcons’ key positions. He’s projected to be guaranteed $10 million as a franchise player. Both of the Falcons guards are free agents and the team doesn’t appear to want to lock them in at $10 million for next season.

Included in the group of free agents are three starting offensive linemen in left guard Justin Blalock (four years), right guard Harvey Dahl (four years) and right tackle Tyson Clabo (six years), who made the Pro Bowl last season.

Linebacker Coy Wire, was set to become a free agent, re-signed with the team.

Here’s a list of the other free agents.

Matt Bryant, PK, 9 years

Brian Finneran, WR, 10 years

Brent Grimes, CB, 3 years

Michael Koenen, P, 6 years

Trey Lewis, DT, 3 years

Stephen Nicholas, LB, 4 years

Jerious Norwood, RB, 5 years

Michael Peterson, LB, 12 years

Will Svitek, LT, 5 years

Eric Weems, WR, 3 years

Brian Williams, CB, 9 years

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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60 comments Add your comment

Mike from London

February 16th, 2011
7:32 am


February 16th, 2011
7:38 am


Sgt. Pepper

February 16th, 2011
7:47 am


D. Orlando Ledbetter

February 16th, 2011
7:47 am


Falcon Red

February 16th, 2011
7:57 am

Jimmy Crack

February 16th, 2011
8:19 am

The Falcons should tag Matt Bryant. Koenen proved last year he doesn’t deserve another one and Bryant saved our bacon a few times in 2010.

Q: Do you know how many teams suffered with missed kicks last year??
A: I don’t know but it’s a lot!

Q: Do you like to watch “All for nothing” drives where the offense beats its brains out to get points and the kicker shanks a 30 yarder?
A: NO!!!

Tag Bryant!

The Real Falcon

February 16th, 2011
8:21 am

Actually not!!!

The Real Falcon

February 16th, 2011
8:22 am

This is good business and keeps the troops happy.


February 16th, 2011
8:24 am

why would any team tag a free agent as a franchise unless they thought he was in or close to the top 5 players at his position in the league? None of those Falcon free agents listed come close.


February 16th, 2011
8:29 am

I think they should tag Ledbetter….. don’t let him get away.

Calvin G. Sims, Sr.

February 16th, 2011
8:29 am

I love J. Norwood, but he is not what we need. Keep him only if you promise to never run him ‘tween the tackles and increase screens to him.

Go Falcons!!!

The Faithful

February 16th, 2011
8:32 am

Let them go, get the compensation picks, stock up and let’s make a run at the SuperBowl with those picks…it is the NE method of getting strong and staying strong.

Mike Jay

February 16th, 2011
8:33 am

Dahl, Clabo, Grimes, Nicholas, and Weems are the only must have resignings.

Greg's Brezina

February 16th, 2011
8:56 am

yes, none of those players should be franchise tagged. The only players we definitely cannot lose from that list are: 1) Brent Grimes, 2) Tyson Clabo, and 3) Matt Bryant – any of the rest of them can go…….I would transition tag the three guys above – which I believe means you get a 1st round pick if someone else signs them and you don’t match – if you retain player, they get paid on a one year deal the average of the “top 10″ players at their positions.

Vinny D

February 16th, 2011
9:05 am

Eric Weems will be resigned for a well deserved pay raise.

D Money

February 16th, 2011
9:40 am

@ Mike Jay I agree with all of your resignings except for Dahl. He gets pushed around by better teams way too often. Replace him with Mike Johnson and re-sign Blalock.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

February 16th, 2011
9:46 am

Jesse: Thanks!!! Some people want them to tag me with a taser gun.


February 16th, 2011
9:58 am

Sounds good to me D-led, Are you ready for your mock 1.0? and please no Pouncey this year. lol

thebeast number 13

February 16th, 2011
10:00 am

we need matt bryant because hes the kicker we need a kicker.tehe other positions we have plenty other players to get improved.


February 16th, 2011
10:08 am

Thank goodness the did not tag Norwood!!!


February 16th, 2011
10:17 am

Norwood walks, Finneran could walk, Mike P could walk, Matt Bryant and Brent Grimes def re-sign, re-sign Koenen, Keep Clabo and Dahl, let Blalock walk, B. Williams could walk, Trey Lewis re-sign, Stephen Nicholas re-sign, Svitek re-sign.


February 16th, 2011
10:28 am

I dont know a Pouncey turned out real good for the steelers they are set for the next ten years at center.

Peion Deion

February 16th, 2011
10:29 am

Let Norwood walk, WAIT he cant hes injured again!!!!! Franchise tag who???? NONE of these guys will ever see a tag, unless theyre flying outta here. Some are decent players, half of them who cares. We need some FA to make an impact on D to change our playoff problems, Peterson & Finneran are done, Weems is the best of this bunch

Rod Johnson

February 16th, 2011
10:30 am

I agree with Mike Jay! However, I am not so sure Eric Weems should warrant a BIG contract. Yes, he had 2 nice returns, but is that because of his blazing speed and agility…no. It’s because the Falcons have a very good Special Teams unit. Just check the stats. Don’t forget that Dominique Franks is also a return man. Can Weems be a game-changer or move the chains on the offensive side of the ball. I say no. We need to sign a WR playmaker and draft 1. I am not giving up on Harry Douglas, but you can never have too many WR’s.

I keep hearing people talk about Stephen Nicholas going to Detroit. I don’t think so. Let’s not forget how patient the Falcon’s brass were when he was going through some personal issues. Never once did Atlanta turn their back on this guy or degrade him in the media. I don’t think Nicholas will turn his back on us. He will be resigned.

I am definitely interested in seeing several players this year, which would include: LB Bear Woods, WR Brandyn Harvey, CB Dominique Franks, S Rafael Bush. For some reason, I feel like all 5 of these guys will end up being GREAT steals for the Falcons. Keep your eye on them.



February 16th, 2011
10:32 am

I love it…………….used to be most were saying we needed to get rid of Brent Grimes. Now he is on everyones list as a keeper. Keep on keepin’ on Grimey!


February 16th, 2011
10:38 am

Brent Grimes is a must keep. It’s hard to find a good corner.


February 16th, 2011
10:47 am

I see the Birds going after a lineman in the draft, possibly Anthony Castonzo from B.C.
They need a receiver who can make plays and a DE who can rush the passer.
I like Sidney Rice and Ray Edwards, respectively, from Minnesota..
Hopefully, they can resign Grimes and at least one of the lineman they have who are free agents..
Nicholas played well, when Spoon got hurt, and should be brought back..
Jeez, you would think a 13-3 team wouldn’t have this many question marks, huh..?


February 16th, 2011
11:16 am

How about 1,304,594,354,143. That is the budget deficit for just this year. 1.3 Trillon!!!!
Or maybe 15,000,000,000,000. That will be our national debt at the end of the year. 15 Trillon!!!!!
OK…back to sports…

Mike Jay

February 16th, 2011
11:58 am

@ D money. I agree about giving some young guys a shot on the oline. However it is not smart to turnover that many olineman in short order. McClure is goign to need to be repalced next year and we all know we need an upgrade at LT. I think Dahl better than Blaylock who is way to mistake prone. Plus Dahl provides some nastiness and fire in the gut which the Falcons need. So I would replce Blaylock this year and then center ant Lt next season.

@ Rod johnson Good point on D. Franks and the blocking on ST, which is superb. Though I think Weems wouldn’t cost too much to resign.

Mike Jay

February 16th, 2011
11:59 am

Oh and Nicholas defintly needs to be reupped. I thought he was our best LB the second half of the season. He was the only guy on Defense who seemed to show up in the GreenBay loss.


February 16th, 2011
12:04 pm

Need to dump Norwood. Great player who needs more reps to succeed. Won’t happen with the Falcons. In addition, he seems to be on the injured list alot. Why have they not eliminated Anderson the great physical specimen who cannot produce.


February 16th, 2011
12:33 pm

I agree with tom! Norwood needs to be on the chopping block. He has not worth to us but injury prong. Get rid of him now and cut our losses. Grimes should recive a much better contract to re-sign with the team. His stacks were much better than our million dollar shut down corner.

Terrance X

February 16th, 2011
12:58 pm

this is why 2 lineman were drafted last year.

Die Hard Falcon

February 16th, 2011
1:29 pm

I don’t think anyone needs the Franchise Tag, except maybe Matt Bryant(only b/c it wouldn’t cost too much, unless he’s willing to resign w/o it). Anyway, Grimes is def. a keeper, I think Weems wouldn’t cost too much to sign, so we should. Also, Nicholas is solid in the rotation at LB and if the cost isn’t too great, keep him. I think Clabo made it known that he wants to test the market, so let someone pay too much for him or let him come back and accept less to stay. Dahl or Blalock, whichever TD thinks is better, the other goes. I think McClure should stay unless they think Hawley is truly ready to takeover already. Don’t have much of an opinion on the rest, keep them if it’s cheap or let them walk. Peterson and Williams are good locker-room guys, but getting old and I think the team has an identity now and might not be as necessary, I think that’s why they let Coleman go.

I also want to know if anyone has thought about the Falcons talking to the Texans about Mario Williams. I know it’s highly unlikely, but they switched to a 3-4 D and I don’t know how he’ll fit, if we could get them to trade him for our 1st rd pick, another mid round pick and JA98 (who fits the 3-4) maybe it’s workable.

Any thoughts about my dream scenario? D-led, anyone?

Tiger man

February 16th, 2011
1:31 pm

Falcons had one of the best OL’s in the NFL last season. Now’s not a good time to break that up. You lose Ryan, wait till next year. The DL needs total focus also. Anderson was a bust from the get go and Jerry hasn’t been much better. Abraham can’t catch a cold he’s old.

OK.. just draft Da’Quan Bowers and that will fix that.


February 16th, 2011
1:34 pm

Bills just released Marcus Stroud. Any thoughts about Atlanta trying to sign him? We could use a veteran leader on the line, and we might be able to get him at a semi-bargain.

senior falcon

February 16th, 2011
1:37 pm

D. Led: Please point out to some of these brain-deads that you can only “tag” one player. Jeez!


February 16th, 2011
1:48 pm

No one’s good enough to franchise….


February 16th, 2011
1:52 pm

i wonder why so many bloggers come up with the most ridicuous scenarios when it comes to free agency etc. 1) Forget Mario Williams. The Texans arent gonna give up their 2nd overall pick and all his production. Wade Phillips is only gonna get him MORE sacks…a la Demarcus Ware. 86 the idea 2) You all can forget about the Nnamdi sweepstakes too. We spent huge on a corner last year so thats just a dream too. Nothing wrong with wishful thinking as I wish we could land players of such caliber…unfortunately we cant b/c of so many situations with the league CBA,etc.

Old Boy

February 16th, 2011
2:03 pm

It would take something very unexpected for a guy like Bowers to drop low enough in the draft for Atlanta to have a shot at him. I remember a phrase from my time in the Army. Something about a dead girl or a live boy. . .


February 16th, 2011
2:09 pm

I think the Falcons are in great position to make moves in the off-season, the only must keep pplayers in my opinion is Grimes, you 3 linemen and maybe your place kicker, I think it is no need to Franchise any of them as well, the Falcons should be able to negotiate good contracts for both parties for these players. Grimes and Clabo along with the other linemen will probably be the most sought after players, but I don’t think anyone will throw too much money at them. Let the rest walk and use the money to get some playmakers for the team and the Falcons may be Super Bowl bound in the near future.


February 16th, 2011
2:57 pm

when does jamal anderson’s contract run out? he is effin’ garbage. puree jerry ain’t panning out either.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

February 16th, 2011
2:59 pm

Charles: I’ve already announced I’m going with Allen Bailey. But it’s going to be fun! I must say I’ve been getting some mixed reports though. Mike Pouncey is not as good as his brother. He could slip into the second round. He will be a good player. Maurkice, like I tried to tell everybody, is going to be GREAT!

senior falcon: You can only used the franchise tag on one player. (There’s also the transition tag for restricted FAs, but we are not discussing that one today.)


February 16th, 2011
3:31 pm

I think we should resign, Matt Bryant, Brent Grimes, Koenen,Stephen Nicholas,Svitek,Weems and Clabo. These guys in my opinion are keys to our long term sucess.


February 16th, 2011
3:43 pm

Kudos D Led. You did say that and you know a lot more about football than the likes of us. ;) He would have been more impactful than Weatherspoon this year but he was already gone.lol I like Weatherspoon though and I think he’ll be fine once healthy.

Die Hard Falcon7

February 16th, 2011
4:08 pm

Thanks for responding to my post, I don’t mean to be a dreamer, and I don’t think it’s as ridiculous of an idea as one might think.
I know a lot of people want the most insane scenarios to happen and some don’t seem well thought out. I do think that Super Mario isn’t as crazy, maybe he doesn’t want to play the 3-4, or maybe like Aaron Kampman, it won’t be a good fit. I know Kampman isn’t nearly as good as Williams but still some guys just know their position and aren’t capable of making the transition. So maybe giving up a couple picks and JA98 isn’t totally crazy. I agree about Nnamdi, he’s already stated who he wants to play for (GB or Jets) hopefully he’ll stay in the AFC. At any rate the Falcons need someone opposite Abe and maybe someone like Ray Edwards is more likely, but no one in the draft at #27 will help us any time soon, so they should go w/ Torrey Smith, or Anthony Castonzo if he’s still on the board. I believe the Falcons should also look at a TE in round 2 or 3.
I LOVE the Falcons and am hungry for a championship, I live right in the tri state area of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin, so I am tired of listening to GB fans and Bear fans, it’s time for ATL to bring home a ring. I hope the brass is ready to bring in whoever they can to make it happen


February 16th, 2011
4:09 pm



February 16th, 2011
4:45 pm

Grimes, Weems, Koanen, Blalock, Dahl, Claybo, and Nicholas need to be resigned. And why won’t they use the franchise tag?


February 16th, 2011
4:57 pm

Grimes… nobody asking him to go now.
Weems… scary on special teams.
With a couple of exceptions the others can stay, but if you have to fish or cut bait…

tell it like it is.

February 16th, 2011
5:09 pm

Grimes is way to small,he should be a backup corner,get some people in here with some size,so the falcons can compete with the elete teams. the falcons are a team that has missed on key hight draft choises recently,and its got to hurt them,unless they pick up FA some were down the line.I look for the falcons to regress the next 2 season,if they play at all! this team has very few above average players,you can count them on one hand!