Vivlamore reporting from Flowery Branch. Here is my story from today’s interview with Brent Grimes.
Flowery Branch – As the Brent Grimes’ contract situation played out during the offseason, the Falcons cornerback insists he wasn’t about to worry.
Who needs the gray hair?
The Falcons kept Grimes for another season when they placed the franchise tag on him in March. He will earn $10.281 million this season on a one-year contract.
“Honestly, it’s not my problem to deal with,” Grimes said following Saturday’s training camp practice. “I do what I do. I play football. That’s what I have agents for. They call me and tell me what’s going on. Whatever happens, I’m just going to come out and play football. I don’t worry about all that. I just have to worry about covering people.”
Hours after the Falcons announced they had placed the franchise tag on Grimes, paying him the average of the top-five salaried cornerbacks in the NFL, his agent said he would not sign the tender. Both sides hoped to work out a long-term deal. Grimes signed the tender in April when such a contract could not be reached.
“That’s just how it is,” Grimes said. “You don’t really have to [sign the franchise tag immediately]. It wasn’t like I was drawing a line in the sand. You don’t have to [sign right away] so there wasn’t any need to [sign right away]. I’ve been here for all the OTAs, all the minicamps.”
Still, the security of a long-term contract would go a long way for Grimes. He is entering his fifth season with the Falcons after making the team as an undrafted free agent out of Shippensburg University. Grimes made the Pro Bowl following the 2010 season.
“Everybody wants that,” Grimes said. “That would be a lie to say I didn’t want that. You do what you have to do. I can’t worry about what is going on in the front office. I just play football. … If I started worrying about all that, I’d have gray hair. I make life as simple as possible.”
It won’t exactly be business as usual for Grimes. New defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is adding wrinkles, especially with the addition of cornerback Asante Samuel. There have been times during training camp when Grimes has moved from his left cornerback position to the right side.
Grimes said he is comfortable with the adjustment. Nolan might be even more comfortable after getting a first-hand look at Grimes’ athleticism recently. Nolan said he was walking through the weight room and watched as the 5-foot-10 Grimes, standing on one leg, jumped on top of a box four feet high.
“He’s more athletic than I had actually thought he was,” Nolan said. “… Shoot, I can’t jump six inches on one leg. He went right up and landed on the same foot. That was pretty impressive from an athletic stand point.”
Nolan said one big adjustment in the new defensive scheme is the coordination between the roles of the cornerbacks and safeties. It has been a big focus early in training camp and the coordinator praised the work of Grimes, whom he called a “franchise player.”
Grimes said he is 100 percent recovered from the right knee surgery he had in November that caused him to miss three of the last four regular-season games and the playoff loss to the Giants. He finished with one interception, 35 tackles and 12 assists in 12 games. He played in all 16 regular-season games in both 2009 and 2010 and had a combined 11 interceptions, including five in 2010 when went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
There might be one more job for Grimes this season. Or maybe not.
The Falcons are looking for a new punt returner and Grimes, and he has in previous seasons, can often be found fielding kicks. Coach Mike Smith said there is an open competition for the job and praised Grimes’ hands and vision.
Grimes said punt return was his favorite while playing collegiately. He’ll keep working at it and while he wishes for such an opportunity he doubts it will come.
“I’m like ‘In case of emergency, break glass,’” Grimes said.
- Chris Vivlamore