UPDATE: Curtis Lofton dines with Saints’ brass

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) fumbles the ball as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) moves in with Giants offensive tackle David Diehl (66) defending in the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J.  The Giants recovered the ball on the play. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) fumbles the ball as Atlanta Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton (50) moves in with Giants offensive tackle David Diehl (66) defending in the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants recovered the ball on the play. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

UPDATE: Former Falcons linebacker Curtis Lofton, who is an unrestricted free agent, went out to dinner on Sunday night with New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, head coach Sean Payton, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and linebackers coach Joe Vitt. 

He is meeting and talking some football with the Saints today.

Lofton’s visit with the Saints was pushed back until they finished meeting with former Seattle linebacker David Hawthorne on Saturday and early on Sunday.

Previous post below.

Former Falcons middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, who is an unrestricted free agent, is set to visit the New Orleans Saints, Lofton’s representatives confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

He also has an offer from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

WSB-TV Zach Klein reported the moves per a league source.

Lofton, the team’s leading tackler over the past four season, was drafted in the second round of the 2008 draft. He had 577 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Falcons will attempt to replace Lofton with Lofa Tatupu, 29, a three-time Pro Bowler who did not play last season. Also, Akeem Dent will get a chance to win playing time.

The Falcons worked out Tatupu last Friday and reached an agreement on Saturday. The former Seattle linebacker did not play last season because of injury problems.

The move to sign Tatupu opens the door for Lofton to leave the team.

The Falcons could use Dent in running situations and Tatupu on third downs. The Falcons were ranked 29th in the league in third-down defense last season. Tatupu has 10 career interceptions and is considered solid in pass coverage.

Tatupu has a history of knee and concussion problems. He did not play in the league last season reportedly because of his knee problems. He also had visits with the Saints and the Titans.

In 2009, he missed 11 games with a torn pectoral muscle.

Tatupu, played USC, and was a second round pick (45th overall) in 2005.

Tatupu has amassed 550 tackles with seven forced fumbles.

Tatupu had a DUI arrest in 2008, but despite that arrest, he does not carry a ‘bad guy’ reputation. He was a popular leader during his Seattle’s days.

The market for free agent linebackers shifted heavily this offseason.

San Francisco signed linebacker Ahmad Brooks to a six-year, $44.5 million contract with $17.5 million of it guaranteed, his agent Greg Williams told the Associated Press.

The market was when the Browns have signed linebacker D’Qwell Jackson to a five-year contract worth $42.5 million. A total of $19 million is guaranteed.

So now, here are the top five contracts for inside linebackers:

1. Patrick Willis, San Francisco: seven years, $53.51 million, $29 million guaranteed.

2. Jon Beason, Carolina: six years, $51.3 million, $25 million guaranteed.

3. Jerod Mayo, New England: seven years,$49.85 million, $25 million guaranteed.

4. D’Qwell Jackson, Cleveland: five years, $ 42.5 million, $19.5 million guaranteed.

5. David Harris, New York Jets: four years, $36 million, $29.5 million guaranteed.

The Falcons held talks with Lofton’s representatives at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. The talks were termed as amicable, but the team has elected to move in another direction.

Lofton has played 95, 95 and 99 percent of the defensive snaps over the last three years.

The Saints could be facing some player suspension over their bounty gate. Middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma was on the players mentioned as a central figure in the scheme that was orchestrated by then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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209 comments Add your comment

Brooklyn Falc

March 15th, 2012
5:35 pm

Within the Division either way = oy vey!

Big Crimson 75

March 15th, 2012
5:36 pm

Good. Our 3rd down efficiency just improved against the Saints next year. What happened to Jonathon Vilma. Lofton is not better than Vilma on any down!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 15th, 2012
5:48 pm

Some think Vilma slowed down some last year and he’s a central figure in Bounty-gate.

cyberdawg

March 15th, 2012
5:52 pm

Of course a lot of people point to coaching when teams don’t perform as expected, but I’m now thinking that the fiscal side of the game may be just as important as the X’s and O’s.

Nique

March 15th, 2012
5:54 pm

D-Led;

any talks about bringing a LT in even for a workout, McNiel, Winston, or Levi Brown? I mean at least have a freaking conversation with someone of significance, maybe they’re willing to take less in order to win, some people actually still do prioritize winning that much If we get this before the darft I’ll feel better, not great but better!

10 of 12

March 15th, 2012
5:56 pm

Looks like a new whodat!. You know he wants a shot at knocking Matty Melt out for Choking in the 3 playoff games the Failclowns were embarassed in!

Pastor Mackdaddy

March 15th, 2012
5:57 pm

hate to Curtis back in NFC south but with new def coord Mike Nolan there should not be any familiarity with defensive schemes that Lofton could tip off to his new team….hopeful Tatupu can stay healthy….big gamble there but could reap big rewards…time will tell

Chub Rock

March 15th, 2012
6:00 pm

The Falcons clearly are not interested in Curtis Lofton so maybe we should just move on to other news. I for one am excited to see what Sidbury and Dent can bring. You can’t go out every year and sign this big ticket free agents without having cap issues a year or two down the road. Guys like Hawley, Sidbury, Jerry and Dent are gonna have to step up and should be allowed the chance to step up and make a career out of this thing.

AlanFalcon

March 15th, 2012
6:00 pm

Lofton can’t hold Mattie’s jock when you compair sucess in your give position of responsibility.

Falcon Fan

March 15th, 2012
6:03 pm

I hate to say it, but we might just be in a position where we might have to take a step back for a couple of years to be a better team down the road. It really annoys me when teams like the Hawks keep there “core” guys together when they know just as well as I do that they will never win a championship. Kudos to the Falcons for actually trying to win, even if they haven’t exactly made all the right decisions along the way.

Amadeous

March 15th, 2012
6:04 pm

I am rather confused… Mr. Blank was jumping up and down mad about the playoffs..SO was I. He demands his coaches to turn it around and bring a championship to Atlanta. Well, Mr. Blank…You have allowed Abraham, McClure and several others walk. There is NOOO way we are going to win if other players are not signed. Standing still during free agency sure will not get the talent needed to go all the way. I am really confused at what the Falcons are doing..or the lack there of!!!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 15th, 2012
6:09 pm

Nique — Sam Baker is your left tackle. Coach Smith made that point very clear at the combine. I’m checking into the Marcus McNeil situation.

Um... No

March 15th, 2012
6:11 pm

“The former Seattle linebacker did not play last season because of injury problems.”

That’s not true. He didn’t play because he didn’t want to take a pay cut.

Um... No

March 15th, 2012
6:12 pm

He was injured the season before.

Chub Rock

March 15th, 2012
6:12 pm

10 of 12- That is so gay when you guys misspell the word Falcons. And it also goes for the people who misspell the word Saints. Any grown man who does that quite frankly should be the one embarrassed. What exactly do you think that does? That’s like a grown man sticking his tongue out at another grown man. Be a man. Talk like a man. All of these sissified post have got to stop. Does your team even have a blog site? Why on earth would I want to go to the Saints blog site just to stick my tongue out like a little 5 year old girl. Get a life…and put a woman in it please.

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 15th, 2012
6:13 pm

Amadeous — Let me try to help you. Your talent has posted the fifth-best record in the league over the past four seasons. They have been knocked out by Super Bowl teams each time, including two eventual Super Bowl champions. They’re not that far off. There’s a ton of young developing talent. (I thought Lofton was in this group.) They have achieved a lot early and the Falcons are hoping that the new coaches can get even better performances out of the talent on hand. (I don’t know where the pass rush is coming from.) But I’m just trying to help you here.

Fan

March 15th, 2012
6:14 pm

Lofton was trying too get 9 million per season YOUR.. He is worth 3.3.-3.9 million per season for a TACKLER. He was not a impact or prime time LB. He hurt us on the PASS and that was why Nolan told the Falcons front office too let him go. Abe was OLD and done. Against top teams ABE could not get one tackle or sack. Against top teams ABE was not there but against losing teams ABE had 3.5 Sacks. Atlanta done the wrong thing by letting them both go. McClure will be back in Atlanta. However, do not be SHOCK if Lofton or ABE will be back. No one is going too pay ABE 12 OR 4 MILLION PER SEASON OR LOFTON 9MILLION. The both are trying too get monies that is not DUE too them. Atlanta has trades and a draft too prepare for so let them. We need OL help. I know that Talent is in Atlanta nut Coaches have hinder talent and growth over the years. I best FA signing are OC & DC and we will win NFC South… Atlanta, Carolina, New Orlean & BUCS Watch

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 15th, 2012
6:15 pm

Amadeous — One more thing. . . Like Sam Wyche told the Cincinnati fans back in the day, “You are not Cleveland!” (Would you trade places with a Browns fan right about now? I didn’t think so . . .)

Sid

March 15th, 2012
6:16 pm

“Tatupu had a DUI arrest in 2008, but despite that arrest, he does not carry a ‘bad guy’ reputation.”

No charge DLed………..!!

Jordan

March 15th, 2012
6:16 pm

Are the Falcons even showing interest in anyone?

Pastor Mackdaddy

March 15th, 2012
6:17 pm

DLed – do you get the sense the Falcons are working on a draft day trade to bring in OL/DL help….something involving a Michael Turner package?

Sid

March 15th, 2012
6:18 pm

Curtis, go on down to the Bayou, gonna come in last place though.

Mario Left

March 15th, 2012
6:19 pm

Cleveland let go of that OG……….any moves?

Disgusted

March 15th, 2012
6:20 pm

The Falcons are interested in Mr. Zilch. Calling the extension of Mr. Zilch.

I cannot wish ill will on Curtis Lofton even if he signs with a division rival.

Mike Nolan is in for a ride and it should be a short one. No one seems to want to play here.

Chub Rock

March 15th, 2012
6:20 pm

It’s funny how sometimes you can tell the nationality of a person just by the way he or she blogs. LOL

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 15th, 2012
6:20 pm

Chub Rock — Good point. Might be time to wish C-Lo the best. He was one of the nicest guys on the team (to the media). Everybody loved him. Like you, I want to see them let L-Sid play! Let him wreck up some stuff. There’s a lot of action whenever he gets in the game.

Stuart

March 15th, 2012
6:21 pm

I hate to see Abe and Lofton go as well as Weems. However, The Falcons didn’t have enough under the cap to keep one of them. We will have to wait until the season starts.

Disgusted

March 15th, 2012
6:21 pm

It is dumb to insist on keeping first round bust of busts Sam Baker and Periera Jerry.

What do they have on the management of this team?

Chub Rock

March 15th, 2012
6:22 pm

Disgusted-;(

Fan

March 15th, 2012
6:23 pm

Look at our playoff games and tell me how many tackles or sacks ABE had? Tell me how many impact plays did Lofton had? We cannot keep on signing plays that cannot become great when we need impact skills. Atlanta problem is signing players that are there for the monies not too win. Where is the heart and character of the game. The Saints did not gain much in signing Grubbs who cannot open holes or hold his blocks and Tampa Bay need a entire line and a secondary… Atlanta needed Coaches too win a play game and # 90 LSID and Co are our pass rush

Dexter Manly

March 15th, 2012
6:23 pm

@FAN- I could have not written it any better. Well said!!!

MONIES????

old qb

March 15th, 2012
6:23 pm

TD is going to be ridden hard and put away wet for this coming year, but Arthur Blank must be using this coming season as a tax write-ott. It was Blank that insisted he trade away the future for Julio. With Abraham going to end any though of a pass rush (we’ll use age and injuries as a PR excuse so we don’t have to pay him). Hey, we can plug in Sidbury that has absolutely no past history to suggest he could even start for an Arena Football team. So we go to Plan B. Oh yeah, we have no first round draft pick so we’ll create a lot of hype for a DE that played for Marshall and has never been confused for being the next Reggie White–even as a rookie.
And just to make everyone mad I’ll take Hines Ward on a two year contract over Harry Douglas (never has finished a season) to block and catch passes over the middle all day.
I’ll go out on a limb and say Cliff Mathews will have more sacks than Sidbury (and that includes if Mathews gets cut in pre-seaon).
If Curtis Lofton ends up in Tampa Bay they’ll destroy Atlanta–keep standing pat with no money for free agency and no draft picks (way to goArthur).

D. Orlando Ledbetter

March 15th, 2012
6:23 pm

Falcon Fan – They don’t have take a step back. All of their young players have to get better. Pass defense is the No. 1 concern — coverage and rush. Getting Ovie back will help the short yardage game. There’s no short-yardage issue if he’s in there opening holes. The protection has to improve.

JSS

March 15th, 2012
6:25 pm

Sam Wyche couldn’t close the either. His defense wet themselves and dropped the sure Super Bowl clincher before Montana got a 2nd chance and did what champions do, closed the deal! Taylor to the post and NFL immortality!

You what they say about close, ask Craig Morton, Don Meredith, and Danny White!

JSS

March 15th, 2012
6:26 pm

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
“close the deal”

Fan

March 15th, 2012
6:26 pm

Lofton looking for MONIES not Money. He wants unearned monies.. 9 million bucks for a TACKLER. i THINK HE IS CRAZY AND ABE FOR HIS 12 MILLION. NO ONE WILL PAY IT TOO EITHER GUY

Dexter Manly

March 15th, 2012
6:28 pm

@FAN-Another good one, “Atlanta problem “, “need a entire “.

You are priceless. Were we in the same class?

or

Was we in same class?

Fan

March 15th, 2012
6:30 pm

Your are just negative fans…. I am not the owner or GM and I bet anyone Atlanta will win the NFC South and the Division will come down too Carolina and Atlanta. It was COACHING why no playoff wins came too GA not Players.

Sly Ty

March 15th, 2012
6:32 pm

@disgusted: I do agree with you on Baker and Jerry. However, cutting them won’t create new Cap Space, then you will just have dead and unusable Cap Space. Jerry is clearly the greater disappointment.

Nique

March 15th, 2012
6:32 pm

D-Led

there’s no short yardage issue if Ovie’s in there??? This team has had short yardage issue for years, which is why i always say as much as people like to call us a running team, we aren’t because we can’t run when it matters, as exemplified in our 3 playoff losses. Running teams can run when people know that they are going to run, we can’t! Short yardage with Ovie looked the same in the N.O. game. as it did in the Giants game without him! We need more beef & girth up front, which is why I’m glad we’re letting Mc walk & we picked up Vince, both good moves, but Baker isn’t the answer at LT, we need to go after McNiel or Levi Brown!

Hamp

March 15th, 2012
6:33 pm

The post by DOL earlier sums up my thoughts we are close and have good talent. I expect the DC corrd to scheme waaaaaay better than vangorder who couldn’t adjust. You dont have to adjust much in college and he will be a beast in the college game. Nolan is a proven DC for years. I don’t think we have lost much with lofton gone if a MLB can tackle then we have lost nothing that is all he did was make tackles. We need someone to be able to cover a little. The thought of Totupu being hurt I do remember him not wanting to take a cut I think he will be fine. I am worried about baker but before his back injurey he was at least serviciable I would like to see mcneil the others are too expensive I think players with a year off rehabing can return. Look how many times Pennington came back he was atleast the same. Can’t fix a mediocre arm. but he was smart. I was worried but not so much now. THis is a deep draft we will be alright. Just wish there was some news.

Pastor Mackdaddy

March 15th, 2012
6:36 pm

what in the world did TD see in Baker and Jerry?….these guys set the organization back and i don’t have much hope they will improve under new coordinators and at this rate there probably isn’t any interest in another team wanting to trade for them…oh well we stumble along hopefully will have much wiser draft choices this time around

Sly Ty

March 15th, 2012
6:37 pm

Sam Baker,Peria Jerry, Mark Ingram (Saints), and Gerald McCoy (Tampa Bay)are examples of how 1st rounders are not a sure thing. However, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Calvin Johnson, A.J.Green, Julio Jones are examples of great 1st rd picks.

Mike Jay

March 15th, 2012
6:38 pm

Let’s all hope Sam Baker was just beat up last season because he lost his starting job to a scrub. I think the new OL coach must have liked what he saw in him. He’s not as bad as everyone would believe he just hasn’t progressed much and seems smitten with injures. I always thought he would be a better RT but what do I know?

I’ll miss Lofton, he was easy to cheer for but….I don;t think he is worth the money he wants and will most likely get from somewhere. He’ a solid tackler but not a game changer. I think Dent might surprise people, he was killing it on ST last season and I think has earned more PT.

Abe has been a great player for the Falcons but his production has slipped, especially against quality opponents. I think Sid will fill in for him just fine in the pass rush but I don’t think he will come close to Abe in the running game. He never got much credit for that but if you watch Abe stuffed a lot of runs behind the line and caused mayhem on his side of the ball.

Good teams let players go right before it’s too late and don;t overpay and that really seems like the theme this offseason. You draft players to fill these gaps and then develop them to step in when they are called. Let’s see what happens, some new blood might be just what they needed.

Mr. SaintsFan Jr.

March 15th, 2012
6:40 pm

Falcon fans still looking for that “elusive” Superbowl, we will take Mr. Lofton here, we will make him better.

Mike

March 15th, 2012
6:42 pm

D Led,

I am not as upset as some of the other fans at the lack of activity, but I am wondering about why we passed on Grubbs when it looks like he didn’t get an unreasonable contract from the Saints. OLine was as big of an issue as the pass rush last year. Every time we played a good opponent, the OLine lost the battle at the line of scrimmage.

Do the Falcons think Pat Hill will fix all of this? How can they have so much faith in Baker, Hawley, and Reynolds?

Pastor Mackdaddy

March 15th, 2012
6:43 pm

Mike Jay….new blood certainly started with coaching changes let’s hope there’s more than adequate replacement for Abe, McClure, Lofton

Sly Ty

March 15th, 2012
6:43 pm

@Hamp: The Eagles made a whole lot of news last offseason. However, they didn’t make the playoffs. Very rarely do the Steelers make alot of moves in the Offseason, and likewise with the Patriots. Yet these organizations consistenly make the Playoffs. Therefore, the Falcons should be fine.

Mike Jay

March 15th, 2012
6:44 pm

Nique,

Levi Brown is terrible at pass blocking!

“Pro Football Focus, a site that grades every player on every play, routinely rates Brown as one of the NFL’s worst tackles.

In 2011, PFF placed Brown as the 61st overall offensive tackle after he allowed 11 sacks and 40 quarterback pressures. He was considerably worse in 2010, when PFF rated him as the very worst offensive tackle in the NFL. In that season, Brown 10 sacks, 10 quarterback hits and 50 pressures.”

That is the last thing we need. Sam Baker is better than him.

regina

March 15th, 2012
6:49 pm

sickening, but typical of piss poor leadership…