Will Any Big Names Be Cap Casualties for Atlanta Falcons?

Falcons Need to Clear Space

Is Turner a Cap Casualty Lock? (AJC)

As the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off this week, another important date is rapidly approaching. NFL Free Agency begins on March 12th, and while the Falcons aren’t expected to be big players in the free agent market, the front office have their work cut out for them. They need to free up money to not only give themselves roster flexibility and sign their new draft picks, but also to keep some of their own soon-to-be free agents. A list that includes William Moore, Sam Baker, and several key role players. And that’s not even including trying to potentially bring back Brent Grimes and Tony Gonzalez, if he decides to return for one more go. It’s not easy letting go of players who have been great on and off the field, and sometimes even fan favorites. The best franchises do it and the Falcons won’t be any different, at least if they want to keep up their winning ways. A few items and players regarding the cap situation…..

The Need

Are Both #95 & #55 Candidates for Release? (AJC)

Some think that the Falcons will be able to get by with restructuring contracts and a few others that are expiring and not have to make hard choices. That may be true, but Thomas Dimitroff will have to put on his magicians hat because it just doesn’t seem plausible this time around. There are several reports in regards to the Falcons cap current cap situation, but its generally considered to be really tight. A general consensus is the Falcons are somewhere between 1 and 2 million above the cap. While it doesn’t sound that bad, especially compared to some teams like the Redskins and Cowboys who are way over the cap, it’s not that good either.

Keeping their Own

First, the Falcons must have money to free up to keep William Moore, who just made the Pro Bowl, and Sam Baker. Dimitroff has done an superb job of keeping his core together and these are two that he will definitely want to keep. Moore is one of the few young pieces to build around on defense and represents one of the most stable positions on the team (safety pairing with Thomas DeCoud). There was even a report that Moore wants to test the market. While that was from a random St. Louis Dispatch writer with his own “sources,” it probably does at least mean he wants to be paid well after his best season as a pro. And while Baker can’t seek Jake Long money, he also turned in his best season protecting Ryan’s blind side. TD can ill afford to lose two key cogs and simultaneously try to plug holes while creating more.

Moore May Even Get a $6 mill Tag (AJC)

Moore and Baker are just the biggest names, but there are a slew of others players like Chris Owens, Vance Walker, Garrett Reynolds, Antone Smith, Chris Hope, and a handful of others that have been invaluable role players in the Falcons immense success. While it appears that Lawrence Sidbury may be on his way out for some terribly unknown reason, it will be awful to see him succeed elsewhere, particularly with the Falcons anemic pass rush. Moore, Baker, and the players mentioned above will cost many millions alone.

Grimes and / or Gonzalez?

All the players listed will cost way more than the Falcons currently have and that’s leaving out two of the biggest names: Brent Grimes and Tony Gonzalez. Dimitroff and Co. have made it abundantly clear that they want Gonzalez back at all costs and obviously will pay him what he wants for one more run. He made $5.9 million dollars in 2012 and so he’ll at least want that at a minimum, and probably more to be honest. Even though no decision has been made, it does seem that the more time that goes by, the greater the likelihood of him returning.

Gonzo won't Play for Free (AJC)

Where the issue with Gonzalez is a certainty (it’s all up to him), the decision on cornerback Brent Grimes is much less settled. Dimitroff used the franchise tag on him to the tune of $10.21 million dollars in 2012. He was supposed to form a deadly trio with Asante Samuel and Dunta Robinson. The former Shippensburg product was then lost to a season-ending Achilles heel injury in game one. The Falcons would obviously like to keep him and he won’t be seeking the huge contract he was looking for pre-injury, but it seems impossible the Falcons can keep all three. If by some miracle they do, it will cost plenty.

New Free Agents

While the Falcons won’t be huge spenders in free agency, they will at least be looking at some players to fill the gaps, for nothing else than depth. Some believe they may look at running backs, others think defensive tackle and defensive end, and still others think linebackers in free agency could get a look. They may not spend any in free agency, but Dimitroff will likely at least want the option if the right deal comes along.

And the Draft Picks

Need Dough to Keep Grimes (AJC)

They will also need money to ink their draft picks as well. The players contracts have been capped and they won’t have to pay the amount a top 5 pick would require, but this looks to be one of the first years that Dimitroff has all his draft picks and any compensatory ones added, which some are speculating at up to four. >>NOTE: Determining contracts, cap hits, and cap space is a very inexact science since details and rules are hard to come by. Thanks to Spotrac.com for the best attempt at “Cap-ology.”<<

Can’t Go By Expiring Contracts

One common mistake (made by yours truly) is to just go by what contracts are coming off the books. For instance, some might think that Brent Grimes $10+ million franchise tag paired with Tony Gonzalez’s almost $6 million and a few others would net almost $20 million in space. However, you have to go by the cap hits scheduled for the upcoming season, which vary wildly from year to year. Michael Turner, for example, counted $7 million against the cap last year, but is scheduled for a whopping $8.9 million hit in 2013. Even with tens of millions due to come off the books, it is more than made up by players receiving escalators in 2013.

Dead Money

Need Cap Room for Baker (AJC)

One final factor in creating cap space is the issue of what’s called dead money. It is essentially any money that is due to a player when they are released. It can be represented by both guaranteed money or any signing bonus still owed. The worst example is Ray Edwards. The Falcons still owe him $4.65 million in 2013 from his contract, even though he was released mid-season. That money is lost and can’t be recouped or re-used in any fashion. Much of who gets cut will be determined on how much is owed vs. how much could be saved.

Michael Turner

2013 Cap Hit – $8.9 million

Still Owed – $2 million

Potential Savings – $6.9 million

This one seems like as close to a lock as it gets. Turner has been one of the greatest running backs in franchise history in only 5 short years, but all good things come to an end. He showed major signs of slowing down and doesn’t fit the new offensive scheme as much as other running backs. Turner, as much or maybe even more than Matt Ryan, deserve all the credit in the world for what he’s done for this franchise. When all is said and done, he may even hang from the rafters of the Georgia Dome in the Ring of Honor. However, its simply time to get younger and more explosive in the backfield. His cost vs. potential savings make it a no-brainer.

Dunta Robinson

2013 Cap Hit – $9 million

Still Owed – $1 million or $3 million

Potential Savings – $8 million or $6 million

After Turner, no name gets mentioned more than Robinson as a potential cap casualty. It’s no secret that Robinson hasn’t lived up to his enormous 6 year / $57 million dollar contract with $25.5 million of it guaranteed. In fact, only Matt Ryan is scheduled to make more than Robinson in 2013. It would seem to be a lock, but his contract is pretty confusing to comprehend.

On one hand, he has $25.5 million guaranteed and going purely by yearly cap hits, he’s only owed $1 million more in guaranteed money. That obviously would be a huge savings of $8 million towards the cap. However, it says he also is owed $1 million per year in signing bonuses over the next three years. In that case, the Falcons would have to pay him $3 million to cut him and would save around $6 million. There’s also the issue of him receiving $7 million in unidentified “miscellaneous bonuses” in 2010. Either way would save a pretty significant amount towards the cap. Of course there’s the issue of how to fill the hole that his release would create.

Stay or Go? (AJC)

While he’s not been an All-Pro corner, he has been extremely solid, coming off his best year in Atlanta under new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. They could try to keep Grimes, but he wouldn’t come extremely cheap either and it would be a pretty big injury risk. They could roll with Robert McClain, but there’s no guarantee he’s ready to be a full-time starter. They could look in free agency, but all of them would have highly inflated prices. They could go through the draft, but they already have a list full of high needs. It’s doubtful he would renegotiate his contract again after doing so last off-season. Going purely by numbers and savings it makes a lot sense. Figuring out how to fill the new hole, however, is a lot harder, especially for an area that performed pretty well.

Jonathan Babineaux

2013 Cap Hit – $5.2 million

Still Owed – $500k

Potential Savings – $4.7 million

No Falcon has been more of a rock than DT Jonathan Babineaux. Drafted in 2005, the former Iowa Hawkeye has spent his entire career with the Falcons and is one of the only players remaining before Smith and Dimitroff took over. He will turn 32 in October, but had one of his better years in 2012, collaring 31 tackles, 4 sacks, a forced fumble, and an interception. It would be hard to part with Babineaux for many reasons, not the least of which is that he’s still performing well. The d-tackle also showed his versatility in being able to play defensive end, which could be a huge asset in a potential move to a 3-4.

Much of the decision will reside on how much they want / need to save and how much they want remake their defense. On the other hand, Babineaux is in the last year of his contract and wouldn’t realistically be a part of the Falcons defense going forward. Also going back to the fact that the defensive line has been one of the Falcons biggest problem going on 5+ years, and it may simply be time to move on a year early. The DT is also one of the few candidates that would cost very little to release and offer big savings in return.

John Abraham

2013 Cap Hit – $7.156 million

Still Owed – $1.5 million

Potential Savings – $5.656 million

Why in the world would the Falcons even consider cutting Abraham, their only source of any pass rush the last 6 years? That’s a good question, because despite the Falcons getting a new defensive coordinator with a new scheme, they still had no pass rush outside of Abraham. As mentioned in previous posts, it’s frankly unacceptable at the job this entire staff has done getting any pass rush whatsoever besides Abraham in 5 full seasons, draft picks, free agents, and off-seasons.

Is Nicholas Safe? (AJC)

Any potential release has more to do with the Falcons future than it does with Abraham and his production. #55 is still performing at a high level, notching 10 sacks in 2012 without any help whatsoever, per the normal. And when he got hurt right before the playoffs, it showed how truly vulnerable (and pitiful) the Falcons pass rush was / is. The former Gamecock will turn 35 in May and the only reason a release could occur is if the Falcons feel they need a major overhaul with their front seven and a complete break from the past, including Abraham and Babineaux, would be needed. If you know Mike Smith, however, you can bet that won’t happen.

Tyson Clabo

2013 Cap Hit – $6.05 million

Still Owed – $4.65 million

Potential Savings – $1.4 million

This one’s pretty much a non-starter from the beginning. While Clabo may not have been the best tackle in the NFL, letting him go just makes no financial sense. He was guaranteed $11.5 million and has only been paid $6.85 million of that so far. Just letting him go would create almost $5 million in dead money, while only saving barely over a million. If this a year from now it may be a different story, but now it makes no sense.

Stephen Nicholas

2013 Cap Hit – $3.5 million

Still Owed – $3 million

Potential Savings – $500k

Anytime the cap savings debate comes up, the most common thing to do is to look at who had a tough time in the playoffs. Like Chris Owens a few years ago, Nicholas is likely taking the brunt of the blame for a larger and deeper flaw. The tight ends ran wild in the playoffs, both Zach Miller and Vernon Davis, and Nicholas was the easiest target. Davis had success against the Packers and Ravens as well. The former South Florida Bull may have had a tough time, but he also led the team in tackles in 2012. The Falcons need to add depth and competition in the off-season, but the financial cost vs. reward make it a non-starter like Clabo.

Kroy Biermann

2013 Cap Hit – $3.433

Still Owed – $2.066

Potential Savings – $1.3 million

Should Jerry Go? (AJC)

Biermann signed a decent contract last year worth about $3 million a year. Biermann had a good year under Nolan’s new scheme, but is still struggling to find a permanent position. Like others, Biermann is a great Falcon and his contract wouldn’t yield any savings. Biermann’s not an every-down defensive end and probably needs a permanent move to linebacker. His contract does project him to be an every down starter somewhere.

Peria Jerry

Cap Hit – $2.01 million

Still Owed – $1.1 million

Potential Savings – $910k

This really wouldn’t be saving a ton of money, but would rather be a move based on principle. While almost a million isn’t something to sneeze at, the Falcons will probably keep him around for depth for another year, but based purely on performance, Jerry should make way for another player to get his shot. Easily Dimitroff’s worst pick in 5 years, time is up for him to turn some “mythical corner” even including injuries. He’ll likely get another year, but that doesn’t mean he should.

Complete Atlanta Falcons 2013 Cap Hit List @

http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/atlanta-falcons/cap-hit/

Bird Cage GM’s Turn

1) Simple Cut – who should stay and who should go?

2) Are any big names due to go?

3) Should the Falcons pursue both Gonzalez and Grimes?

4) How much money do the Falcons need to clear?

5) Turner: stay or go? How should he be replaced?

6) D. Robinson: stay or go? Who fills hole?

7) Babineaux: stay or go? Replacement?

8.) Abraham: stay or go?

9) Any names left off the list that should be on it?

10) Has Dimitroff done a good or poor job with contracts to date?

11) Should trades for any players be entertained?

12) How crucial is this upcoming draft?

668 comments Add your comment

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
11:30 am

Good morning Cage…

An excellent piece my brother. Well presented, well thought out, and on message. So let’s begin the process of provoking thought.

I am going to start with point ten first, then take a pause for a few, and then come back for more discussion.

Has Dimitroff done a good or poor job with contracts to date?

Let the prosecution submit two statements into the record for review as I answer that question.

Exhibit One.

Dimitroff directs all aspects of football operations with the Falcons and working with Head Coach Mike Smith has final authority over all personnel decisions related to the signing of free agents, the selection of players in the draft, trades, and related decisions. He will also handle coordinating other football-related activities with Coach Smith.

It would appear that TD’s role is that of scout in chief; find the talent, evaluate the talent, select the talent.

Exhibit Two.

Rich McKay is in charge of all business operations for the Falcons. This includes the departments of Finance, Marketing, Ticket Sales, Facilities and Logistics, and Services. In addition to his duties of running the day-to-day business operations of the Atlanta Falcons, McKay is also heavily involved with Mr. Blank to develop plans for a new stadium in downtown Atlanta as the team nears the expiration of its current lease at the Georgia Dome.

The TeePee would submit that IT IS still Rich McKay that serves as the keeper of the checkbook for the Atlanta Falcons given these descriptions.

Exhibit Three.

Note also that after three years of being “stripped” of his General Manager titl, the ‘President” was promoted to the position of President and CEO, a gift of even more power, at least in title if not in deed. It is in my opinon, a clear distinction.

It would appear that TD’s role is that of scout in chief; find the talent, evaluate the talent, select the talent.

RM then pays the talent and CFA Smith is then supposed to integrate the talent.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
12:01 pm

How much money do the Falcons need to clear?

On this question, the TeePee responds with the following. I would say that the “Real Process, Part III” needs to begin this offseason. It is the opinion of the TeePee that the Falcons should seek to clear as much as $20 to $25 million dollars. If the numbers provided by D3 are correct (and I am sure my brother carefully researched them), this could be accomplished by the following moves. I warn you in advance that this is the most controversial proposal the TeePee has ever advanced.

I would immediately release Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson, Jonathan Babineux, John Abraham, and Peria Jerry. These moves alone would save $25.2 million dollars this season.

Yes, I am calling for an implosion and a youth movement. Why?

I am more about the future than I am about the past or the moment. This team has gone as far as it is going to go with this current roster. They can not finish the job; whether it is scheme, management, or a combination.

Pass rush and the inability to stop the run were liabilities. The only way we are going to improve those areas is to get stronger, bigger, and younger at the point of attack. Babs and Abe do not offer that anymore.

A cornerback with real skills, a press man to man corner is needed in the secondary. And Robinson is not that guy. The price paid is simply not worth the results we have seen from him.

Jerry…enuf said.

Turner has given the Falcons a very solid career. But it is clear that the conditioning and the drive are diminishing. And it is time to get a more versatile, more dymanic presence in the running game. I love JR32 but he is simply too small to take the everydown pounding he would be subjected to as a every down back. He is invaluable as a change of pace back (i.e., Kevin Faulk back when NE was winning titles frequently).

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
12:05 pm

How much money do the Falcons need to clear? Part II

Grimes and Gonzo. Let them both walk.

Spend the money on the future, not a band aid. Between the two, should they come back, the Falcons would need to spend a TeePee estimate of at least 7 to 11 million dollars to retain the services of both. That is a lot of money for two players; one coming off significant injury, and the other, an asset but one that can and must be replaced sooner rather than later. Not that I am anti-Gonzo; I am pro addressing other more critical needs on the team. And the money used to retain Gonzo could and should be first and foremost, allocated to those needs.

Die Hard Falcon

February 21st, 2013
12:11 pm

Great stuff D3, thanks for getting us through the “lull”

1) My cuts would be: Turner, Robinson (especially if it’s the 1 mill instead of the 3), Abe (if we switch to a 3-4, otherwise we still need him)and possibly Babs although I would like to see him stay and play 5 technique at a reduced cost, wouldn’t care if we kept him though, he’s solid.
2)Plenty of big names on the list I mentioned
3)I say they should keep TG88 if he wants to come back, Grimes maybe at a reduced rate if they cut Robinson
4)Hard to put a # on how much they need to cut, since I don’t know the rookie wage scale or who we might go after, obviously we need enough for our rookies and to resign Moore, Baker
5)Turner’s time is up. He should be replaced in the draft and w/ what we already have on the roster w/ JQuizz, Snelling. I like an RB in round 2 if Stepfan Taylor, Eddie Lacey are there, or the cat from Oklahoma State in the 3rd or 4th round
6)DRob is too expensive for what we get from him, cut him, fill it w/ Grimes (at the right price or if there’s anyone available via trade or FA that makes sense)
7)Babs– I could really go either way, I like him and think he plays to his contract, it would be nice if he’d re-up at a more cap friendly #, but I wouldn’t expect it, I think he’d make a good 5 technique if we switch to a 3-4 like I hope.
8)I think Abe should go if we swtich to a 3-4, otherwise he’s our only 4-3 end, we’d have to keep him. Just too costly.
9)None that I can think of
10)I would say Dimitroff has done pretty good, although I’m no expert on these things, the only areas that have hurt us are ray edwards and drob’s contracts, but to be fair many people considered them good moves until the underperformed, can’t be right all the time
11)I am dreaming here and I don’t want to sound like a douche bag who thinks we should trade for the dream team, BUT if we could swing a trade for D.Revis for a 2nd round pick and find a way to get him locked up in a 5 year contract that we could work in our cap (not sure if that’s possible), then that would be the ultimate coup for our team, again, I’m reaching and don’t expect this to happen. Otherwise, if a team is looking to dump a quality big NT that can help us, that’d be nice too, most likely nothing will be available to us that would make sense.
12)Draft will be crucial. Especially if we switch to a 3-4 (a theme for me, I know), we’ll need the personnel, also, we’ll need a RB.

Go Falcons!!!

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
12:17 pm

Clabo can be retained and if the opinions of the TeePee matter, he should be immediately moved inside to right guard with Lamar Holmes inserted at right tackle.

This, IMHO, is a not brainer situation with allows us to fully integrate Holmes into the offense while extending the servicability of Clabo for the remainder of his contract provided he stays healthy.

Bierman is being totally wasted in ATL. This dude is much more than just a quality reserve. I want to be clear. The defensive end experiment should be over for this player.

The TeePee believes strongly that he is the answer to a portion of the issues that we have at linebacker. He has range, speed, and is solid in the open field. The TeePee think he has all the tools needed to be an effective middle linebacker or play the strongside linebacker position if given the chance.

This upside and his youth (27) as well as no history of injury bode well and warrant his retention.

The opposite is the way feel about Stephen Nicholas. He is a quality reserve at best and an outstanding special teams player. His weaknesses in pass coverage are glaring and must be remedied. I keep him on the roster simply because we have nothing (AND I MEAN NOTHING) in terms of linebacker depth.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
12:22 pm

Should trades for any players be entertained?

Simply put, no. The players out there that fill pressing needs for the Falcons would come at too steep of a price for a team that will be actively (over the next three years) signing its own stars to extension that will be considerable (i.e., Ryan, Weatherspoon, Jones).

tay

February 21st, 2013
12:27 pm

CUT turner , abe, robinson, jerry, baker, grimes.Screw moore cant cover…….. draft young players and keep it moving

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
12:33 pm

Replacing Robinson?

I say give McClain or Charles Mitchell a shot. Yes, backup safety Charles Mitchell. He has CB skills from his college days and was very effective in zone coverage. Could be a sleeper.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
12:34 pm

A break now….see you on the other side with more discussion and thoughts.

D3

February 21st, 2013
1:10 pm

Great Thursday Cage!

Nice little topic I thought and I’m sure there will be some controversy on this one and heated debate, but one thing that really struck me about the whole process is the fact that, due to contracts that were already made, you can’t just go through with a meat cleaver and cut whomever you want just because they’re being overpaid or not living up to par. It’s all about how much money can be saved?

Sure, it would be lovely to give Nicholas and Robinson the axe and get all the money, but sometimes it just makes no sense whatsoever to release guys. There has to be some savings in place or otherwise it makes no financial sense. Sometimes you have issues like Ray Underwear, but those are extreme cases and all of these are good guys on and off the field.

It also struck me how few of players that would actually save us money. It more or less comes down to a handful of players that makes it worth it: Turner, DRob, Abe, and Babs. That’s really it. Another thing you have to consider is how you go about replacing them if you do release them and that’s another big one.

A true Risk/Reward/Replacement argument.

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
1:18 pm

SW – I believe the TeePee is correct that Rich McKay controls the purse strings and TD evaluates and selects the talent. As I recall, one of McKay’s purported strengths is cap management. When TD was hired I think I remember reading that one of the main reasons for not letting McKay go was his expertise in dealing with contracts. TD had little experience in that area and AB trusts McKay to handle the money.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
1:18 pm

D3 @1:10…points noted.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
1:20 pm

Time, your memory is as lethal as an AH64 Apache. Well done, friend.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
1:23 pm

D3,

In the coming weeks, I will offer solid, concrete proposals to justify each guy that I called for the release of. Again, a great topic and as you said, a spirited, civil debate lies ahead.

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
1:25 pm

The old NFL adage is to let a player go a year early than a year too late. Babs is the only one that gives me pause. There is also another saying, if you don’t worry about the short term, you might not need to worry about the long term. As I said, other than Ryan, Roddy, and JJ, we can turn the entire roster over….However, I think we take a few steps backward it we cut hard, we ready for that?

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
1:32 pm

Thanks SW.

If this evaluation of the roles of TD and RM is correct, such a situation requires a great deal of coordination. Everyone has their role, but no one has the ability to work in a vacuum. If all parties are not on the same page, such a dynamic can quickly become problematic for any number of reasons.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
1:33 pm

MB,

You nailed it right there. I do not think the Branch has the guts to make those tough choices. But I do believe the time has arrived. And I honestly do not think the drop off, especially defensively, will be a great as what we have endure the last three years.

I think that this draft is perfectly suited for TD to do what he does best; find gems in the most unlikely of places.

SeminoleWarrior

February 21st, 2013
1:40 pm

Time, assessment noted.

waynester

February 21st, 2013
2:13 pm

We should probably re-sign Ryan to a more cap-friendly deal this offseason, too, giving us even more room.
I don’t think cutting Bab and Abe will suddenly make our back-up D-linemen any better, so that means spending $$ on those positions in addition to replacing the 2 vets,(3 adding Jerry) which amounts to a total overhaul. Nolan, like most coaches, may want to bring in his “own” guys, guys more scheme-specific. That’s fine, but it’s still a massive change….

Hose

February 21st, 2013
2:16 pm

I would cut Turner, Dunta and Abraham and save 18.5 mil. I would restructure and extend Babs at least another year. Move Clabo to RG and have open competition for RT. Keep the rest as cutting then nets no real savings.

waynester

February 21st, 2013
2:16 pm

ps
the 4 comp picks (some are predicting we’ll get) could be huge. The way the mocks and big boards are currently stacked(subject to change after the combine) we are looking at some rare talent falling right into our laps in the first 3 rounds, at least…..

snacktastic

February 21st, 2013
2:16 pm

What up, Cagers. Just checking in since I’ve been away a while. As much as I love my team, an extended break from Falcons-related news has been helpful.

I’m still reluctant to wrap my head around all of this draft/free agency/salary cap stuff in detail, but at the very least, I don’t think we should bother keeping Grimes. Improving our pass rush will lessen the need for us to focus on the secondary, where we have a good amount of depth anyway.

Rather than making a ton of recommendations and predictions, though, I’m really just interested to see what happens. I think it’s possible to take care of all of our glaring positional needs, but I’m curious about how (and if) it will get done.

Paddy O

February 21st, 2013
2:19 pm

I can see Dunta and the stay puft man. In a 3-4, babs could be pretty useful as the DE. If we do go 3-4, ABE is iffy. I think Travian Robertson, the Octopus and Massaquo could develop into very useful players. Which is why we need to draft a huge butt NT. and a pair of super quick LB/S hybrids. Add in a quick, pass catching RB who can leap like Walter P and we are set.

D3

February 21st, 2013
2:28 pm

SW — Totally agree, except for one part (and I know it sounds crazy, but here goes…….)

The Fact
We have to clear space and there’s simply no denying that in any form or fashion. We have to try and re-sign a slew of guys we want to keep: Moore, Baker, Owens, Reynolds, McClain, Palmer, etc., etc. Supposedly, TD and Co are considering the franchise tag for William Moore. Guess how much that would be?……………….almost $7 million dollars. For those that think that getting rid of Turner alone will be enough, think again. And we have to sign a ton of draft picks, not to mention free agency. And, oh yeah, there’s the issue of Tony Gonzalez who would require at least $6 mill to return.

The Cuts….
Michael Turner – $6.9 million + Jonathan Babineaux – $4.7 million + John Abraham – $5.6 million + $1 million above the cap + Peria Jerry – almost $1 million = That's roughly about $19 million right there. Could we decide to keep either Abe OR Babs? Yes, but that puts us closer to $14 million and I simply don’t think it’s enough.

Breakdown coming next…………..

D3

February 21st, 2013
3:38 pm

Turner
Does this really need an explanation? Nope. Thanks for your awesome service, maybe a Ring of Honor is awaiting you someday. But for now, it’s so long, farewell, best of luck to you, the time has come…….maybe even a year too late.

Jerry
I am fully aware that this won’t happen because A) Smitty and his lovefest for veteran security blankets, B) it won’t save that much money in the grand scheme, and C) did I mention Smitty? However, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen for no other reason than to cut ties with the worst draft pick in 5 years. The dude has had plenty of time to turn it around and HAS NOT. Some may argue that the deal with Baker turned out well with time. WRONG! Baker had good production in 2009 and 2010. Jerry has NEVER had anything worth a d@mn except injuring his own teammate in a meaningless game. This one is about moving on and giving someone, ANYONE else a shot. We are set with Peters, Walker, and Robertson, but the other two spots should be given to two other players. It’s more of a symbolic move than anything else. If Abe and Babs go, than Jerry sure as the hell does too. He would save almost a million. G-O-O-D-B-Y-E!!!!!! Don’t want to hear the depth argument, because we should fill that need through the draft and free agency.

Babineaux
Like the next one on the list, this is a tough one. He’s been a great Falcon and has been there through thick and thin (The McKay / Sick / Prictrino / Lil’ Jimmy Mora Era) and been a rock for this franchise. He had a great year last year and would “like” to keep him, but the time has come for this defense to be overhauled. Sure, would love to keep Babs in a move to the 3-4 as a 5-technique, but what would that entail…..1 year, 2 max? And here’s the thing that I keep coming back to over and over again on defense: the defense in it’s infinite “rebuilding” project has failed miserably. Outside of the turnovers, this defense is literally indistinguishable from that 2008 defense. As SW said, they just couldn’t get it done this past year, unable to hold a 17 point lead at home when the Dome was going absolutely nuts (the loudest I’ve EVER heard it). Is it all their fault? No, but it’s time blow this thing up and start over. And I think Nolan is the man to do it. It would be one thing if we had all the money in the world to re-sign all our guys, but as we know well, it is NOT the case. Like Turner, love the guy and he’ll go down as one of the best Falcons (maybe the most under-appreciated of all time), but it’s time to move on. Peters, Walker, and Robertson give us a solid core and a Jesse Williams / John Jenkins / Kawaan Short / John Hankins, coupled with a FA signing for depth and don’t forget about PS guy Micanor Regis, turns this unit into one of youth and strength to build around.

John Abraham
I know I should be checked into an insane asylum for saying he should go, but really, he’s been our only pass rush for 5+ years. I really feel bad for the guy because he’s never gotten any help at all and has been a beast through hundreds of double-teams and holding. The question probably goes something like this: why do you get rid of your best and only pass rusher and how the hell do plan to replace him? That’s a question that’s not easy to answer, but honestly, it’s time to figure it out and stop this BS band-aid approach. The Colts just let go of Dwight Freeney and he was 33 years old. Abraham will be 35 in a few months and despite his big sack numbers, Abraham doesn’t always show up in the biggest of games. Out of his 10 sacks: 3 vs. Oakland, 1 vs. KC, 1 vs. SD, 2 vs. Arizona. That’s 1/2 vs. the terrible AFC West and 70% including AFC West + Arizona. This is in NO WAY meant to blame him whatsoever. It’s really not. He’s had ZERO help since he’s been here in Atlanta. As I mentioned in the post, this really has not very much to do with him and everything with the massive failure the defense has had since 2008. Simply time to overhaul. Same as Babs.

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
5:04 pm

D3 – Agreed on letting Nolan have significant input into the defensive personnel and scheme. It makes no sense to bring in a DC like Nolan to fix the defense and then dictate the scheme and personnel he has to work with. Let the man do what he does best and give him personnel that fit that scheme.

Birdman

February 21st, 2013
5:22 pm

Good eve Cage

Cuts . Grimes – Babs – Robinson – Jerry – Turner

Keep Abraham He needs help but I just don’t see the team getting any body to come in and feel his shoes this year . If he gets some help in the draft he will still produce this season . I totally disagree on letting him go this year . Next year yes

Falcons need to do there homework and get RB and a TE in the draft but focus mainly on defense 1st.

Tony G the more I think about it let him go if it will free up the cabbage . But it might hurt them to be in the hunt this year . The Birds have a tougher schedule than last year ahead of them

Birdman

February 21st, 2013
5:28 pm

It looks like the Birds are gonna try and keep TG tho . From what I have seen and heard !!!

So if he says he will play then there is know doubt in my mind that he will play

Big Ray

February 21st, 2013
8:16 pm

D3 ,

Maybe the compliments get old, but you brother are THE MAN. No way we’d get through the offseason doldrums without ya.

1) Who gets cut with no questions asked? Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson, John Abraham, and Peria Jerry. The first three guys are all about the money savings and the need to “move on” from pricey bandaids. Jerry is all about “bust” and the need to free up PT and a roster spot.

My only “bubble” guy is Jonathan Babineaux. It could be worth it to keep him because we’re so thin at the position when it comes to any level of effectiveness, but thinking that way is what has caused us to hold on to Abe so long, a position I’ve felt was wrong a couple years ago. So, Babs goes too.

2) Turner’s name would be the biggest of the bunch, followed by Abe.

3) The Falcons should pursue neither. Why? Neither is the key to going further than we did this past season. There is no denying the continued production of Tony Gonzalez. While it’s a divided and touchy subject, I feel this way about him – you don’t pull out all the stops to keep him, but if he wants to come back you don’t tell him no…but don’t pay him what he you did last season.

Grimes – there are or at least should be major questions about the supreme athleticism that allowed Grimes to do what he did in 2009/2010. However, it’s a “what have you done lately” League…and that even goes for guys who are multiple pro-bowlers…not just guys who had a good year or two.

I would not want to be whomever has to evaluate Grimes’ physical abilities. That person’s opinion is going to determine what Brent is worth. Franchising him backfired in possibly the worst way it could have – we paid $10 mil + for absolutely nothing. Nobody could see that one coming, but it doesn’t take away the sting of it when that money could have gone elsewhere. Hindsight and all that notwithstanding, Grimes could earn 4 to 6 mil per year somewhere. Doesn’t have to be Atlanta.

4) Unlike some others around here, I’m not capologist. I’ll go with what some of my superiors in this venue are saying – something around $20 million +.

5) Should have been cut last week. Replaced? No. Not in the technical sense. We don’t need to go after another “feature back” unless we decide to do so in the draft. Even then, it’s better to find somebody that does what Quizz Rodgers can’t or has skills in more abundance in certain areas (speed) than Quizz does. It will be more cost effective, draft or otherwise, to find a complimentary player…an “option” if you will, than it will be to find and name a “main man” at the RB spot.

That said, if the right guy comes along via the draft…in the right spot…you snag him quick.

6) This might turn out to be a bit tricky, but you do what you have to. In a lot of cases, when asking yourself whether you cut a guy, you have to ask yourself WHY you should let him stay. In Robinson’s case, his physical play and run support is good to have.

But he doesn’t cover so well and on top of that if you’re holding on to a CB because of his run support, then you either don’t know what your real problem is or you’re still hooked on expensive band aids.

DRob goes. Robert McClain has in my opinion earned a starting spot somewhere at CB. Terrence Johnson was resigned to a “future’s contract” for a reason…he’s depth. Don’t know how good he is or how much he can/will play. Keep Chris Owens as well, draft another CB, get another in FA.

7) Babs goes. That ain’t easy for me to say. We almost guaranteed to experience some growing pains as this goes along, but that is life. Corey Peters needs to work hard to get back to pre-injury form, Vance Walker should get more playing time (he’s earned it), Time to get Travian Robertson some real time in the fire. I realize late round draft picks usually require some development over time. Well, it’s TIME to get him some real TIME in there.

You can continue to pay millions for what you got last season or you can save that money and very possibly get similar results out of younger player. Have confidence in your staff to get these guys ready to play. A veteran DT in FA is not out of the question, though it calls for some careful spending. It’s a foregone conclusion that the position should be well-addressed in the draft as well.

8 ) One of the biggest “bandaid” cases on the team. There is no need to pay full-time starter money to a guy who can’t stay healthy all season in spite of being on a limited snap count. Time to let go, and there need not be a lot of discussion on it. Those who understand this already understand why. Those who don’t, my not understand what the problems are on the defense and how Abe doesn’t fix those. Just sayin’….

9) Meh…probably, but not worried about that right now.

10) Not convinced this is all Dimitroff’s doing. Again, I’ll bow to the more educated opinions of others.

11) Possibly. Especially if they involve draft picks (preferred) or reasonable contracts of guys who fit a position of need/depth.

12) Quite crucial. Last year’s draft could go a long ways towards fixing positions of critical need along the OL. Time will tell of course, but you have to think that the higher picks (Konz, Holmes) were intended for just that. This year’s draft has the same possibilities/opportunities. Problems along the defensive Front 7 can be addressed, with more to be done on the OL.

Big Ray

February 21st, 2013
8:24 pm

Time is Now,

Nolan should have a better handle on who can do what for this defense. He had to be a quick study for last season…something I think a lot of folks may not have realized. He had to put a bandaid on something when he wasn’t even sure where all the bleeding was coming from.

However, I think it’s a bit foolish to think that we won’t be going forward with some of the same “how do we cover this up” approaches. Even if we drafted all defense and only went with defense in free agency, we couldn’t be guaranteed to fix everything.

What we need to do is graduate from bandaid application to field dressing. Surgery will take time.

Along that line of thinking, I say let Nolan have a very strong influence on the positions and corresponding player types that he feels/knows would best help us “get there.”

If we do better adding a LB for “Year 1″ impact early in the draft and a DT for rotational depth and development in the 3rd round, then so be it. If it’s the other way around, so be it. Same goes with free agency…

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
8:50 pm

Big Ray – agreed.

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
8:53 pm

Now, does it make sense to take a defense devoid of top talent and drop our most productive players? We have not invested in high draft choices, and if we start pinching pennies hoping the draft fills the immediate void….idk, it does not seem what a team who has immediate SB aspiration does. We have to keep someone, if not 2 on defense….which ones is the debate.

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
9:15 pm

D3 – Thanks for providing some insight into the significant cap issues we will face this year. Thanks also to you, SW, and others, for your observations on the cap issues coming when we re-sign our core players going forward. Being aware of these complications will help us understand the choices our team makes going forward (whether we agree with them or not).

Big Ray

February 21st, 2013
9:24 pm

Any horses around here? I smell straw….

Big Ray

February 21st, 2013
9:27 pm

Time is Now,

One thing about the cap issues and “core players” revolves around a serious question. Who do we consider to be core players, and for how long are they core players?

I think that answers or at least begins to answer some of the questions about cutting guys.

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
9:36 pm

Big Ray – “… for how long are they core players?”

My guess is that TD, based on his coming up through the ranks with the Patriots, will be inclined to cut ties with an aging player a year too early rather than a year too late.

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
9:38 pm

Well BR, who replaces all these guys? That is not straw, that is a rational question. We really think a cut rate D is what wins SBs? You notice the D that won the SB this year?

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
9:44 pm

Time, that is he trick, who has a year left, who does not. Obviously we need to ge younger, but we are not hoping to improve on 4-12. Anything less than a SB is a bust, we just can’t indiscriminately every defensively guy with a high cap and rebuild around beirman at a new position and expect to improve.

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
9:50 pm

MB – it is, and has to be, a big picture decision. I feel confident that TD will attempt to provide the personnel, within the financial constraints of the system, that the coaching staff thinks they need to give them the best chance to win ballgames. Successful teams over the long term have to constantly tweak their roster. Some of these tweaks must necessarily involve aging players who make big bucks. That’s life in the NFL.

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
9:56 pm

Agree time, someone is going, but gutting it is a huge risk, not a risk that a team with SB aspirations makes unless we have some guys waiting in the wings, but we just assume we will find guys who can step right just does not make sense.

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
10:03 pm

I think Babs, and drob stay, abs and grimes goes. Jerry gets one more year. You will see some restructures on offense…..

The Time is NOW

February 21st, 2013
10:06 pm

I think the coaching staff knows more about what they have, and what they need, than we do. We are fans. Part of our job is to speculate about how to make our team better, because we care. But we also have to live with the decisions our front office and coaching staff make. It is futile to get too attached to our own plan, as we don’t get to make those decisions. But arguing about it passes the time…

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
10:10 pm

100 percent agreed time….teams always find a way to keep who they want and get their draft signed. TD knows his stuff. But somebody is getting cut, ot getting a payout.

D3

February 21st, 2013
10:24 pm

Just a little night pop-in Cagers…………

One thing that’s getting lost is the fact that it’s not that we necessarily “want” to get rid of any of these guys, but the shear fact that we HAVE to, if we want to have any money whatsoever. Sure, Turner is a lock, but $7 mill above a cap gets eaten up in a hurry.

I started noticing that when I started looking closely at these contracts. Even the practice squad guys get $550k and you wouldn’t think that adds up, but with 40 or so players on the roster and a bunch of practice squad guys, it goes quick. Especially when 5-8 players make up about 50% of your cap.

Just signing our draft picks alone will need some clearing.

AJ Jenkins signed a 4 yr(s) / $6,947,534 last year as the 30th pick in the draft with a $1.26 cap hit. Just that alone will require some cap clearing. Not to mention all these guys we likely want to re-sign: Moore, Baker, Owens, McClain, etc, etc.

More tomorrow.

As UB says…………Nytol!

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
10:28 pm

Aundry Bruce #6 in all time busts…..an for the record I was his neighbor when he pulled the bb gun on the pizza guy.

D3

February 21st, 2013
10:31 pm

Interesting little tidbit to end on…………

http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2013/02/21/nfl-considers-overhauling-the-offseason-calendar/

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the NFL is considering changes to its off-season calendar that would move the Combine to March, the start of free agency to April and the draft to May. The NFL is also considering having all 32 teams start training camp on the same day.

The players’ union would have to approve such a radical change to the calendar, but the NFL may be able to persuade the players to buy in with an argument that it would increase revenue — some of which is shared with the players — and make the Combine, free agency and the draft bigger events.

It’s worth wondering whether the owners are also thinking that moving back the offseason could give them more breathing room if they expand the regular season to 18 games and move the Super Bowl from early February to late February.

For NFL fans, the draft is often viewed as the halftime of the offseason, but the reality is it’s really not the midpoint of the offseason at all: It comes less than three months after the Super Bowl, but with more than four months left before the start of the regular season. Moving the draft back a month would position it as a true halfway point between the Super Bowl and Week One, and potentially make it an even bigger offseason event.

They may not be perfect, but this is why the NFL is superior to every other sport, including college football. They are masters of making their sport a year round event and don’t settle until that happens. If you really think about it, there’s really only a few complete “dead zones” in the NFL calendar: few weeks after Super Bowl (which we’re in), but that’s quickly changed by the Combine and Free agency. Another is the span between May and June after the draft, but most of the times people are going on vacations, enjoying the outdoors, etc. However, I would concur that May would probably be better for the draft (at least in terms of of captive audience) because there’s so much going on in April: Braves, College spring practice, The Masters, etc. I used to hate the move when they changed the draft to Thursday night, but now I love it because it’s a whole weekend of draft enjoyment and debauchery. And also gives me a great reason to take a 3 day weekend……… sssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! :grin:

Nytol, for real!

Matty Bicep

February 21st, 2013
10:51 pm

Watching top 10 nfl busts…

Andre Ware
Heath Schuler
Larwence Phillips
Art Sleezster
Andrey Bruce
Tim Couch
Rick Mirer
The Boz
Tony Mandrich
Ryan Leaf…..not sure how Jamarcus Russell misses this list.

Big Ray

February 21st, 2013
11:43 pm

Big Ray

February 21st, 2013
11:54 pm

The idea that the Falcons are in reality going to cut all (or even most) of these guys is preposterous. We know better. But somebody WILL get cut.

The idea of discussing such a possibility in the fantastical realm of a blog is not preposterous.

The idea that we can get further with largely the same key personnel, same schemes, etc is worse than preposterous. It’s called insanity.

Big Ray

February 21st, 2013
11:59 pm

Don’t at all see the point of keeping Peria Jerry. Least productive of all DTs. Can’t stay healthy and when he is, can’t produce.

Fans of production would be able to understand this. Dude doesn’t even get snaps, hardly. There has to be a reason for this, no? Give the playing time to Travian Robertson and draft somebody to replace him. It wasn’t a good pick in the first place.