Should the Falcons Keep Booker?

Pay ‘em or Pack ‘em? – Booker Edition

Was Booker a One Year Rental? (Curtis Compton/AJC)

One of the biggest and first jolts of news to come out of the 2009 Atlanta Falcons Training Camp was the news that Harry Douglas went down with an ACL injury and was quickly lost for the year. Some may have overlooked Douglas and the explosive dynamic he brought to the offense with returning Pro Bowlers Roddy White and Michael Turner, and the addition of Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez. Granted, the 2008 schedule was really weak (particularly in hindisight), but Harry Douglas had a big year for a rookie working in the slot (320 yards receiving, 1 TD; 69 yards rushing, 1 TD; 226 punt return yards, 1 TD). Douglas made it impossible for defenses to key on White on the perimeter and stack the box in order to stop Michael Turner. #83 was able to stretch the field and really open holes for both Turner and White. Enter Marty Booker.

Marty Booker as a Falcon

Booker broke out as a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears in 2001 when he went over 1,000 yards receiving two years in a row and had 8 touchdowns in 2001 and 6 touchdowns in 2002. Booker was a legit number 1 receiver for spell, and was definitely a number 2 receiver on his worst days back in his prime. From years 2003 to 2006, Booker had seasons from 600 to 800 yards receiving and a ranged between 6 to 3 TDs after spending time in Miami as a Dolphin. Booker saw a pretty significant dip in receiving yards and touchdowns in 2007 and barely eclipsed 200 yards back in Chicago in 2008. With Roddy White’s holdout and Douglas’ injury, Dimitroff called in several wide receivers to audition for several spots on the roster. Booker and Robert Ferguson made the first round of cuts, with Booker getting the nod to fill in as the 3rd or 4th receiver, depending on how much Brian Finneran got in the game. Booker played in all 16 games, but only came away with 16 catches and 181 yards with one touchdown.

Pay ‘em

While Booker didn’t have a fantastic year at wide receiver, he did show relatively good hands when thrown the ball. The wideout didn’t get a ton of chances throughout the year, but caught most balls thrown his way. He had an 11.7 yards per catch average on the year in a limited role. The passing attack in general certainly had its share of setbacks and Booker can hardly be blamed for its issues. The fault likely may have been due to play-calling since really no receiver could make an imprint in the slot, not Eric Weems and not even Brian Finneran made much of an impact in the aerial attack. Booker may not have a ton of gas left in the tank, but he would be a great (and cheap) insurance policy for the wide receiver situation as it stands: Harry Douglas coming back from major knee injury, Michael Jenkins having his fair share of struggles, Eric Weems inability to establish himself in the passing game, and the likelihood that any receiver drafted will be in the late rounds and have issues adjusting to the NFL. Add to that he knows the offense and he could make a push for a roster spot.

Pack ‘em

While the passing attack in general took a small step back in 2009, Booker was extremely unproductive and inconsistent as the slot receiver. Booker had bounds of opportunities to make plays with the hard running styles of Turner and Snelling, Roddy White stretching the field, and Tony Gonzalez absorbing constant double teams. Booker even dropped some big catches where he was expectedly wide open. The possibility was there for the slot receiver to have a big year and there was absolutely no threat whatsoever from the #3 wideout. Granted, both Eric Weems and Brian Finneran also failed to make an impact in the slot, but Weems is young and will only get better, and Finneran was money on important 3rd down possessions coupled with injury problems again. Booker is 33 years old and will hit the 34 year mark in July. #80 had his breakout years in 2001 and 2002 and has been on a steady decline since that point. With all the weapons on the Falcons offense, the chance was there to make some big plays and failed to do so. Its time for the Falcons to get younger in the wide receiving attack. Dimitroff is loaded with 8 likely picks and it will be shocking if he doesn’t pull the trigger on a young wide receiver to couple with White, Gonzalez, Jenkins, Weems, and a hopefully returning Douglas. It is very true that the receiving corps now has question marks abound with the injury to Douglas and Jenkins vast inconsistencies, which solidifies the point even further that the time to draft another wideout is upon Atlanta.

A newly drafted receiver could eventually compete for the slot and possibly even the number 2 spot with Jenkins issues. The quick emergence of Mike Wallace (3rd round), Louis Murphy (4th round), Austin Collie (5th round), Johnny Knox (5th round), and Miles Austin (undrafted free agent) has cemented the fact that good quality wide receivers are plentiful throughout the draft and its time for the Falcons to get younger at wide receiver.

What’s your opinion on Marty Booker – Pay ‘em or Pack ‘em?

Check out DOL’s New Blog on what the 19th or 20th pick in the draft might hold

Also check out my fellow AJC Fan Bloggers:

Bill King on UGA’s new defensive coordinator

Chris Boggs on Tech’s Nice B-Ball Run

Rawhide on the Thrashers Bagging the Leafs

Big Ray’s take on the Hawks Fall to Thunder

 

Enjoy……….

130 comments Add your comment

e.lo

January 19th, 2010
10:34 pm

RomeDawg

January 19th, 2010
10:35 pm

I believe there is an opportunity to find a quicker slot receiver with more upside than Booker. Hopefully, Harry Douglas, whose name sounds like a porn stars, will be back and ready to give us a boost at the slot. That last sentence also sounded “pornesque” but you get the picture.

PoolerSpirit

January 19th, 2010
10:36 pm

Cut him. Can’t wait to see Douglas back in our offense!

e.lo

January 19th, 2010
10:37 pm

Booker filled in decently, however with Douglas returning next year he will not be needed. What we really need is a legitimate #2 reciever because Jenkins has proved that he is not one.

D3

January 19th, 2010
10:55 pm

RomeDawg, e.lo, Pooler – Glad to have you guys aboard.

RomeDawg – Originally from Rome? Grew up, went to high school, and most family resides in Rome. Completely agreed on Booker. Good as gone. This is a big chance to add at least one WR and I wouldn’t be against taking a flier on a second receiver. Question is: do we go tall, fast to compete with Jenkins and his issues as a “supposed” #2 receiver, or quick and speedy slot?

Pooler – Right on. Just hope HD is back up to speed and healthy. I think our offense really suffered without a legit slot, and Booker choked that chance.

e.lo – Happen to agree with you on Jenkins. Its time to stock the cupboard full of WR’s. Roddy’s a Pro Bowler, HD’s coming off injury, Jenkins is the consummate underachiever, Weems is no greater than a #5 IMHO, and BFinn is 33 and way too injury prone. Time to get younger at WR.

waw

January 19th, 2010
11:04 pm

You mention Booker as insurance for WRs in general, including Jenkins. I wonder if a younger guy in that role would push Jenkins into a more tolerable level of consistency.

JIMMY

January 19th, 2010
11:32 pm

I think we can make a good offer to Brandon Marshall, sure he had he problems, but with the right offense and coach we can have three deep threats (White, Douglas, Marshall). We will be a fool if we give up Norwood. I think we really need to make our defensive, and offensive lines bigger, stronger and faster. One other thing keep gonzalez and come up with more trickery plays.

Box

January 20th, 2010
12:01 am

Cut Booker and Jenkins. Keep Finn to play ST and CB on fade pass in redzone. Get one WR in draft, and let Bergeron try again. Hell, let DJ change positions and try out. Can’t see him as more than 3rd string QB, as much as it pains me to say it.

Ed

January 20th, 2010
1:01 am

Sack’em D3…youth is served and we pick up a WR in the draft. He hasn’t proven worthy of keeping being he’s going on 34, slow, and unreliable. Bring on the draft…nice work as always D3.

BT

January 20th, 2010
6:26 am

I highly doubt it for Booker or Finneran to be back.
It`s almost a certianty the Birds will be drafting/signing a WR or two this off season.

JJ

January 20th, 2010
7:15 am

SeminoleWarrior

January 20th, 2010
7:42 am

Thanks Marty Booker for your role in the 2009 season. Best wishes.

We should move on, get younger, and continue the PROCESS via the draft.

CBrass

January 20th, 2010
8:34 am

He’s going to be gone due to the fact that Harry is returning.

Unca' Bob

January 20th, 2010
8:39 am

At $1.4 Million per, and 16 catches, hardly seems bargain-basement to me.

Dandy D

January 20th, 2010
8:52 am

QUick overhaul time: Cut Jenkins, Booker and Finn. Why can’t Harry Douglas move up to a number 2 receiver? What football god ordained that he should be limited to a slot receiver role? Finn’s knees are shot, bless his play. Time to move on with a younger draft pick. Bring in available veteran receivers once again to see if they can unseat Booker as a back-up 4 receiver.

D3

January 20th, 2010
9:55 am

Quick Edit – That last paragraph should read Miles Ausin, not Austin Collie twice. Darn Austins.

Good Convo’s – Yep, its that time to upgrade wideout. Once a position of magnificent strength in 2008, quickly disappeared with HD’s injury and Jenkins acting like…., well himself. As TD proved in his first draft, he’s not afraid to pull the trigger on a wide receiver with taking HD in the 3rd round. Remember, at the time we were seemingly “stocked” with Roddy, Jenkins, and Laurent Robinson. Concerning BFinn, give him another shot of course but how many knee injuries can one man take? Not entirely sure that Weems is a true threat as the #5 either. Maybe it was Mularkey’s fault once again, but Weems should have flourished in the slot himself, in theory. Little disappointed they never gave Troy Bergeron at least a shot in a game. Who knows, he may be next year’s Eric Weems (never give up and finally take advantage of a big break).

JIMMY – Would love Marshall, but just don’t see TD pulling that trigger.

Box – Good to see you my friend.

Seminole – He did fill in “admirably” I suppose, I would just think that what a great opportunity he wasted with all the talent on the field. Of course, it could have mainly been Mularkey’s fault.

Unca' Bob

January 20th, 2010
10:19 am

It would not surprize me to see Finn retire and walk away, while he can still walk.

D3

January 20th, 2010
10:24 am

UB – After hearing him on several radio spots, I certainly didn’t get that impression, even though it would make complete sense.

QB – Not to steal thunder from one of my future posts, but what do we do with Redman? Resign him for multi-year deal? Or do we go elsewhere for an experienced back-up in free agency? Can’t imagine we’d draft another QB to develop seeing as we have JPW. Just food for thought.

SeminoleWarrior

January 20th, 2010
11:00 am

For all those that are calling for Jenkins to be released, forget it. He is here to stay. Look for the Birds to add another WR in the middle to late rounds of the draft or sign some guys after the draft.

D3, I think that Redman can be had for less money. We need a vet at the backup position. Not much out there in terms of potential QB FAs.

The “best” of the bunch available out there are Kyle Orton, Jason Campbell, Chad Pennington, Tavaris Jackson, and Kellen Clemons. None of them are a major upgrade of Redman, IMHO.

Bill Tiller (Rawhide)

January 20th, 2010
11:11 am

Hey D3 – Great stuff as always!!! I love the fact that we’ll be talkin’ Falcons football even after their seasons ended.

Keep up the great work dude!!

GO FALCONS!!!

GO THRASHERS!!

Resign or Resign?

January 20th, 2010
11:13 am

Why does everyone rave about Douglas and trash Weems? Compare their stats! If Booker is still on the roster next year, it will mean that TD has failed to improve the WR position; though I think that his blocking was underated. Again, there is much more to being a WR than just catching the ball.

Resign or Resign?

January 20th, 2010
11:17 am

Also, Redman proved to be a serviceable, if not spectacular, back-up. We can live with him if another QB doesn’t fall into our laps. We should NOT need to draft a WR ( unless a great one falls to us) as I think that White, Jenkins, Douglas and Weems are sufficient and we have greater needs on the OL and DL.

Yoda

January 20th, 2010
11:28 am

Dump him, the guy has bricks for hands and he isn’t very good at get away from cover……DUMP HIM Now

BT

January 20th, 2010
11:41 am

Going into camp with at least 5 WR`s (whom you feel good about) means there will be more than just White, Jenkins, Douglas and Weems.

Resign or Resign?

January 20th, 2010
11:52 am

BT:

I just listed the 4 who would get the most playing time. Surely we can find someone better than Booker for #5.

nash

January 20th, 2010
11:53 am

If there is enough money in the falcon piggy bank to get brandon marshal I say to heck with everyone else if there is anyway the team can get marshal I pull the trigger I saw this guy play in a game were you knew he was going to get the ball on every play and he did and got yards and caught the ball on screens and slants and you name it he caught it this guy was unbelieve able. Hey anyboby ever thought about the blunt kid from oregon but yeah sorry Booker nice year time to go you my freind are no Brandon Marshall and neither is Jenkins for that matter maybe the falcons can trade both of you for a draft pick

BT

January 20th, 2010
11:55 am

SW,
I agree, a WR is drafted in about the 4th round and some after draft signings.

D3

January 20th, 2010
11:56 am

BT – Great point. Last camp the Falcons went in with like 8-10 receivers (White, Jenkins, Douglas, Finn, Weems, Mougey, A.Kelly, Bergeron, Brandon Godfrey, Khalil Jones and Dicky Lyons) and that’s not including Booker and Ferguson.

Resign or Resign?

January 20th, 2010
12:10 pm

D3:

…and how many of those, after the first three, were drafted?

BT

January 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

How many that were not at least former draft picks made the roster?

Dawson Devitt (D3)

January 20th, 2010
12:24 pm

Resign – Perfectly said. Which is exactly why its time to take a wide receiver in this year’s draft. Time to stop counting on the undrafted free agent route, just my opinion.

Andre

January 20th, 2010
1:09 pm

Marty Booker was terrible one freaking touchdown?!!? Look at his stats somebody could’ve done that in a game. 16 Rec 161 yards 1 Td. What the heck!!!

LRD

January 20th, 2010
1:24 pm

Booker did have some highlights heading towards the end the year, but he will be gone. HD back, we will draft or free agent another receiver. Jenkins will have a “breakout year” coming
And I say breakout in quotes as he should have had that break out year by now and last year was rather disappointed. The #2 rcvr that shoulda woulda coulda.
I think we will see a vastly improved Jenkins this year as he is going to have to fight for his spot. I really think the White hold out did some kind of mind melt on Jenkins. During the training camps he was running great routes, hands were tight on the ball , and he was operating as the #1 rcvr at that point in his mind. Maybe “losing” that spot just messed with him… and if he does not improve will we see him on the D3’s trade or pack list next year?
(Oh , and I will say for Jenkis, one thing he is decent and rather consistent is on downfield blocks..and underrated trait of a good WR)

Coop

January 20th, 2010
1:51 pm

Booker will go. too much money for that. Jenks will stay our #2 until somebody unseats him. I don’t like it, but I don’t hate it. Don’t want Brandon Marshall or any other “distractions”. We’re building something good here. Our chemistry seems tight. Let’s keep that going. I think this team is still too fragile to withstand a MeAngelo/TO tupe player.

Look for a vet in FA and a rookie in the draft (5th round or later). Give Weems and Bergeron another shot to make the team. Hope HD fills the slot.

LRD

January 20th, 2010
1:52 pm

D3 and Cage.. y’all made it to ESPN in Pat Yasinskas latest article. Congrats!

CBrass

January 20th, 2010
2:07 pm

First USA today now Pat Yasinskas!!!! Congrats D3 and everyone else here.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/7486/around-the-nfc-south-39

CBrass

January 20th, 2010
2:08 pm

Well looks like LRD beat me to it. Guess I need to hit the refresh button more often. LOL

Coop

January 20th, 2010
2:16 pm

I also want to reiterate my comments from the D discussion. Until we are certian that our O line and D line are solid, we don’t really know how good or bad our RB, WR, OLB, or CB are. If Matt had another second in the pocket or could step up in to his throw, does he deliver a better ball (not saying it’s awful now). If the recievers have another second, do they seperate more? Maybe, maybe not. but instead of investing all our picks and money into these “skill” players and wondering why they can or can’t do something, solidify the line so that comes out of the equation. Look at Indy, with that line and QB, if the WR can’t get open or catch, you know it is the WR. We can’t say definitively now that we know that about our team. Solidify the line. Then if the WR can’t hack it, you know what to do.

Sam on D. Soldify those DTs before you go searching for a new DE, OL, or CB.

Coop

January 20th, 2010
2:23 pm

Atlanta Falcons: Donovan Warren, CB, Michigan
General manager Thomas Dimitroff has made a lot of the right moves since taking over the Falcons. However, making a poor draft pick of oft-injured Peria Jerry and putting him at nose tackle at only 295 pounds just isn’t my cup of tea. He can redeem himself to the fan base in this draft by upgrading the defensive end or defensive back positions in the first round – because I just don’t see how this draft goes offense or linebacker (weak 4-3 linebacker class). Warren is a very athletic playmaker and will be the consensus No. 2 corner in the draft before long.

that from Walterfootball.com

Don’t like that pick at all.

CBrass

January 20th, 2010
2:24 pm

I just found the draft list on ESPN and could some one explain why the Steelers get to pick before either us or Houston? We all have same record (9-7). Could it be that both the Falcons and Texans won more division games?

http://espn.go.com/blog/nfcsouth/post/_/id/7436/2010-nfl-draft-order

CBrass

January 20th, 2010
2:38 pm

LCDawg

January 20th, 2010
6:17 pm

PLEASE do NOT draft a wide receiver in the first round….plenty of talent in free agency etc..

JJ

January 20th, 2010
6:32 pm

CBrass, je ne sais pas, 2 yrs in hs, thats about it except tu parle francaise.

JJ

January 20th, 2010
6:58 pm

Hey cagers, just thinking (dangerous I know) after reading all the diff. falcons blog. It’s early, very early in the pre-draft analysis but what do we want, really want from a 1st rd. draft pick?

Do we want a stud back up for a yr playing special teams or a starter?

Morgan, Haden, Spiller are 1st rd starters that sre out of reach, most likely. Every other DE, CB and RB after them are special team/guys in transit. This (early) has to be the year to set up our OL for yrs to come. However, OLB is also an option.

falcon21

January 20th, 2010
7:38 pm

I read someones post that said we did not give up that many sacks this season, the O-Line should thank Ryan for that. He hurt his own completion percentage having to throw so many balls away and still took the hit many times. He made the O-Line look better than they are. If not FA then draft OL first. Oh yeah, bye bye Booker.

LRD

January 20th, 2010
7:39 pm

JJ. I want a starter. I want a Jerry (sans injury) to come in and be a difference maker. DT or Outside Linebacker. Realistically if we get a LB he will prob not immediately start, which in some aspects is good as he then would have time for skill transfers from Lofton and from Peterson and better understandings of the “schemes” (HA) . But I would say this is closing in on Petersons last season(s), so we need that depth in the LB corps.. and I think we were very lucky to avoid major injury bugs in the LB corp this past season. And if we have a new stud, then we can allow Lofton a few plays off to rest and recoup, as he was operating on the injured list since game 8-9 past sesaon.

Unca' Bob

January 20th, 2010
7:44 pm

JJ,

Love ‘ya brother. We have to cement our D-line. It’s an absolute. Our offense is OK, not great, but OK. We need to get to the point where we shut teams down. We need to go with defense(IMHO).

JJ

January 20th, 2010
7:44 pm

LRD, so OLB before OT in 1st?

Coop

January 20th, 2010
8:01 pm

falcon21

January 20th, 2010
8:01 pm

Lot of good comments made for some good reading. Have a goodnight Cagers.