Credit Falcons for trying to fix problem, pursuing Robinson (UPDATED with video)

Dunta Robinson somehow got out of Athens but it appears he's headed back to Georgia.

Dunta Robinson somehow got out of Athens but it appears he's headed back to Georgia.

Last season, we saw a Falcons defense that ranked 28th in the NFL against the pass and and allowed a cartoonish 54 pass plays of 20 yards or more. It didn’t matter what the defensive front was because the secondary was scorched earth.

Rare are the times when a football coach doesn’t need to say, “I can’t comment until I see the game film.” Because we all knew what the Falcons’ biggest problem was. They’re taking a step to fix that.

Our D. Orlando Ledbetter reports free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson is close to finalizing a deal with the team. Robinson — who starred at Clarke Central High School but somehow got out of Athens and went to South Carolina — is in town today and talking with team officials. But it’s not known if  a contract will be signed and/or announced today. The Falcons are not commenting, but there’s little reason to believe at this point things will fall apart.

(Funny side note: At about 8 a.m. I checked Robinson’s Wikipedia bio and it read that “Willie Dunta Robinson is an American football cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons who will wear No. 23.” Knowing a deal had not been completed yet, I sent out a note about the bio on Twitter. Alert reader Jason Kirk (@BrickCheney) then changed it back to the Houston Texans. It has since been changed again. It now reads: “Willie Dunta Robinson (born April 11, 1982 in Athens, Georgia) is an American football cornerback. He was drafted by the Texans 10th overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He played college football at South Carolina. He is now a free agent who is about to sign with the Atlanta Falcons.” Kirk has dubbed it, “THE DUNTA CONSPIRACY!” Ah, if only Wikipedia ran the world. Think of how quickly we could fix the economy.)

Let’s assume for a moment this deal gets done. Credit general manager Thomas Dimitroff for moving quickly. It’s what has quickly made him one of the top front office executives in the NFL.

Sometimes, general managers make mistakes. Sometimes they draft the wrong guy, or sign the wrong guy, or even cut the wrong guy. But mistakes notwithstanding, the best GMs are the proactive ones, and Dimitroff has been just that. There are problems all over the Falcons’ defense and any move would’ve helped. But the situation at corner is/was by far the most desperate — more so even than defensive line or outside linebacker. They started five different cornerbacks last season — Brian Williams, Chris Houston, Brent Grimes, Chevis Jackson, Christopher Owens — as well as using Tye Hill in nickel situations. Williams, the veteran picked up on waivers from Jacksonville, was the lone solid performer as a starter until a season-ending injury.

Robinson is not tall (listed at 5-10) but he gives the Falcons a proven — proven — NFL cornerback and allows them to focus on other problems early in the upcoming draft. Fact is, the Houston Texans would not have  let him go into free agency if the money situation had not gotten out of hand and possibly damaged the relationship between the two sides.

Robinson turned down a contract extension before last season and was franchised by the team. He signed the one-year tender for just under $10 million but was upset about negotiations. In the season opener, he wore a pair of shoes with the words, “Pay me Rick,” a reference to Houston GM Rick Smith. He was fined $25,000 and later said, “If it offended anybody, I apologize, but it wasn’t that serious at all.”

Obviously, the Falcons aren’t concerned. It appears they’re about to give him a lot of money and he’s about to fix one of their problems.


Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and on Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

Just looked around the ole’ inter-web thingy and decided to add two videos. The first shows a Robinson interception and return three years ago against Oakland (sorry, no sound). The second is a humorous commercial for a fantasy football website.

161 comments Add your comment

Bob Didier caught here

March 5th, 2010
11:07 am

First and foremost!

Bob Didier caught here

March 5th, 2010
11:10 am

Not sure I am happy with this signing Jeff…….have heard that DR has some character issues. Care to expound?

TucsonWreck

March 5th, 2010
11:10 am

I applaud TD for taking quick decisive action, but even Derelle Revis can’t cover for 5 or 6 seconds with no pass ruch.

Gatorzone

March 5th, 2010
11:13 am

pay him Thomas!!!!

Lowcountry Bulldawg

March 5th, 2010
11:13 am

Looks like this signing also will take the Falcons out of the Karlos Dansby derby. Would be nice to add the young man from Auburn. He is a very athletic LB. Not a huge fan of this signing, but it is needed, and frees the Falcons to address the DE spot in the first round.

@DanWeiner

March 5th, 2010
11:15 am

Reality is this is a week class of CB in the draft and Robinson is far better than anything the Falcons could get in the draft. Time to turn our attention to the pass rush or an OLB in the first round if the top tier of D-Ends are all gone by the time we pick.

jwritz

March 5th, 2010
11:16 am

Good move…Dimitroff…we are heading in the right direction.

Josh

March 5th, 2010
11:19 am

I think TD plans to use PJ to increase the pass rush in the middle which would help the ends.

Trade down?

March 5th, 2010
11:21 am

Jeff – do you think this indicates that the Falcons will look to trade down now out of that 19th spot? Sign DR = no new CB. They say they are happy with the return of Peria Jerry at DT this year and looks like Jamal Anderson is staying at this point. And a deep draft for DT. What other glaring need in relation to value is there (assuming a playmaker like the Clemson kid is gone)? Dimitroff can find a good LB later in the draft, etc. – do we trade out now?

Jeff Schultz

March 5th, 2010
11:22 am

Bob Didier — Kind of presumptuous, don’t you think. :)

Dr. Warren

March 5th, 2010
11:22 am

They’re still gonna need more than one new DB to solve that mess. What if either Robinson or Williams goes down next year? So I say get us a DE in Round 1, trade up to grab another DB in Round 2. Oh, and lest we forget, Peria Jerry, who will basically be playing his rookie year this year, is an oft-injured guy. Dimitroff knew that about him in college but took a chance on him and it bit us. We better be thinking of a quality back-up for Jerry in Round 3 rather than having to pull a guy off the practice squad when he goes down again.

F-105 Thunderchief

March 5th, 2010
11:22 am

Hope he doesn’t go full-blown MeAngelo on us. He’s shown those tendencies before.

Dawgs2010

March 5th, 2010
11:22 am

This would change everything on draft day!!! We could draft the best available player, be it offensive or defensive!!

This is big!

Jeff Schultz

March 5th, 2010
11:24 am

Bob Didier — Haven’t researched but off-hand I don’t know of much beyond the shoe incident, at least nothing that’s made major news. But like I said I haven’t dug yet.

chaseolla

March 5th, 2010
11:24 am

Good move TD! Can you say SEAN WITHERSPOON #19 !
D-LED what is the name of the O-linemen at the combine 6′7″ 315llbs who ran a 4.6 40 , Campbell? he might be there for us although on film they say he is a project w/ upside, very atheletic

Jeff Schultz

March 5th, 2010
11:25 am

Gatorzone — Hahaha. That probably wouldn’t be the best thing to write on his shoes before he walked into Dimitroff’s office.

Jeff Schultz

March 5th, 2010
11:26 am

Dr. Warren — Agreed. I’m sure they’ll add at least one more DB, either draft or street FA, or possibly both.

[...] Read the rest here:  Credit Falcons for trying to fix problem, pursuing Robinson | Jeff … [...]

SirReal

March 5th, 2010
11:27 am

Jeff,
I’m so sick of people always talking about “character issues.” (BOB) Last time I checked we were all human. EVERYone has some type of issue. I am so sick of this with the league….give the guy a chance. We all have bones rattling in the closet.

F-105 Thunderchief

March 5th, 2010
11:28 am

I’d disagree slightly that Williams was the only corner to have a solid year. Grimes did have six INTs. He at least made the other team pay for picking on his l’il ol’ self.

DawgNDallas

March 5th, 2010
11:31 am

Jeff – You’ve used the “cartoon” description in two straight articles. You are now on cartoon restriction.

chaseolla

March 5th, 2010
11:33 am

Sorry I meant second round Campbell Trade Up !

Gatorzone

March 5th, 2010
11:36 am

Jeff, what are you hearing on Peria and William Moore? Can we count on them to be injury prone, or was last year a fluke?

Billy

March 5th, 2010
11:39 am

No character issues with Dunta. Always seen as a locker room leader here in Houston. But has an inflated sense of his own worth (turned down $23 million guaranteed last off-season…). Still, a good pickup for the Falcons.

GT in Gold Town

March 5th, 2010
11:39 am

There is no point in having a unlimited salary cap if you don’t go after the big boys. You pay for the talent you get. San Diego didn’t want to pay Turner his money so he left and we got him. That worked out well. Texans don’t want their super star. Fine by me…

Roark@(PrickSchultz)

March 5th, 2010
11:40 am

Enter your comments here

gabuldawg

March 5th, 2010
11:41 am

I think we’ll be able to take the best player available as long as we caveat that with that player being a position of need. I can see us going OLB, DE, OL in the first round. Should be plenty of guys available at that point. At the same time, I think if the right offer comes along, we’ll trade back and still get the BPP.

JustChillFans

March 5th, 2010
11:43 am

Why do the falcons have 7 cb’s. maybe 4 or 5 are gone play per game. Why so many? I Hope we package two in a trade (houston, hill) because i think they have the most value. What do you think Jeff?

Hatfield Geoff

March 5th, 2010
11:44 am

Great, now if we can draft Graham the DE from Michigan. I see a real upside to this defense

nash

March 5th, 2010
11:46 am

I think this is awsome that clears up the corner problem for now. THe falcons can now focus on other areas on interest olb, o-line, d line, rev, running back and tight end. It was nice of the texans to look out for the falcons all the team did was give them a qb that turn there team around

Falconsforlife

March 5th, 2010
11:46 am

If TD thinks this is the right move, then it’s the right move. I love that we finally have a front office that moves this quickly though. We are finally a team that people want to play for. It almost feels like a dream. I’ve never been this confident about this franchise before in the many years I’ve been a fan.

NO to Dunta

March 5th, 2010
11:47 am

I am not sure about Dunta Robertson. Pro Football Focus, which tracks the stats of every CB, has Dunta as one of the 10 worst CB in the league (of those who played 25% of the snaps). Should the Falcons really pay over $10M for someone who isn’t very good???

RWDeferia

March 5th, 2010
11:47 am

Great signing if it goes down. Now we can focus on DE or LB at 19 and we get a player who is one of the better young CBs in the NFL, had a better rookie season than DeAngelo Hall behind when we drafted him and was always the better CB between the two if slightly less athletic. If ATL loved D.Hall, we’re gonna really like Dunta. Less character issues and better cover corner

RWDeferia

March 5th, 2010
11:49 am

Now we can bail on a couple CBs, keep b.williams, c.owens and grimes, maybe houston into a nickel position, or trade bait for a 4th rd pick?… stay tuned

Dawgs2010

March 5th, 2010
11:49 am

We need a big, nasty Offensive Linemen to push people around to protect and give Ryan move time to throw. Need to protect the franchise QB!

ernisTbass

March 5th, 2010
11:50 am

I don’t see Dimitroff investing in locker room cancer, he has proven to be pretty thorough in his character investigations in the past. I’ll give his opinion a little more weight than blog gibberish

Formul8or

March 5th, 2010
11:50 am

Having Williams back and Robinson let’s us really focus on the linebacker and o-line needs.

Many overlook our lackluster o-line. It kept the offense from ever clicking

bruceATL

March 5th, 2010
11:55 am

This is the best possible FA signing for the Falcons. Cromartie was the only other proven CB out there, and he was definitely not a fit for our locker room (also, just picked up by Jets). Trust in Mike to get the most out of our (presumably healthy) D, and know that Thomas will take the best available at 19–on either side of the ball.

RWDeferia

March 5th, 2010
11:55 am

OLine fought through injuries and played well, Ryan only went down 16 times boys, and Turner missed almost 8 games. Our line made Snelling look like a pro bowl RB at times. When healthy, we’re good. We need depth in the later rounds here though

Flo-Ri-Duh!

March 5th, 2010
11:56 am

Robinson will be good for about 3 more years and would definitely help the pass defense. Falcons have a couple of young CB’s that were high round draft choices. They will get better with coaching and expereince. William Moore will be good at safety “if” he ever gets out of the infirmary where he resides next to Jerry and Sam Baker. Falcons should get Robinson and then trade up for a DE in the 1st round but not if he is a reach. They also need a starting OT and LB – either through free agency, trade or draft. They are not likely to get all of this in one year but could improve at every position of need in this draft – at least depth wise if nothing else. Jamaal is getting bettter but he is a DT – not quick enough to be a DE at the weight they have him at now. Jamaal is not likely to be cut because he is a decent back up and is paid a huge gtd. contract. So, IF all thse high paid draft choi9ces make it through the season without major injuries the Falcons could be very good – if not – they will come in 2nd place again.

cantondawg

March 5th, 2010
12:00 pm

Great pickup..Being weak at cornerback will get you beat quicker in the NFL than anything…I really like TD approach to building a football team.With Jerry coming back and with DR playing corner i feel like we will be much better defensively…Offensively, we just need to keep Sam Baker and Michael Turner healthy. We broke the curse this year and i really think we have a team that can go all the way.

bryan evans

March 5th, 2010
12:05 pm

I’m with you cantondawg! Good stuff!

PMC

March 5th, 2010
12:06 pm

They add one of the best available CB’s addressing an immediate need at corner with a veteran who should learn his role and adapt much quicker than rookies and it didn’t cost them any draft picks. They used a bunch of picks on corners last year whom they obviously believe in. This gives them much more quality depth that they couldn’t have added with a rookie.

If they pick up Robinson they have more freedom at the top of the draft too.

Reid Adair

March 5th, 2010
12:06 pm

I thought Brent Grimes and Christopher Owens played better as the season went on. Adding Dunta Robinson gives some “proven” experience in the secondary, without a doubt.

I wholeheartedly agree, Jeff. I applaud Thomas Dimitroff for being proactive.

Diamond Dog's Parole Officer

March 5th, 2010
12:11 pm

I don’t know how D. Robinson got out of Athens. They supposedly get all of the best players in Georgia. They must not have wanted him. He must not have been a good corner for a 4-3 defense.

We need to see if we can trade for Tim Jennings. He was great. UGA wanted him. If Jermaine Phillips is still out in bail, mayeb we can get him. He was great at UGA.

I’m just waiting for Pollack to tweet us the good news…. Like the hiring oif Kirby Smart!

Banned By Cindy

March 5th, 2010
12:12 pm

” Ah, if only Wikipedia ran the world. Think of how quickly we could fix the economy.”

Yes. Free market (open source) solutions work best and this is an example of it. Problem quickly addressed and remedied.

Or certainly in relation to some sort of centrally planned solution aka the federal reserve and/or government. The forgotten depression of 1921 is evidence of the former while the Great Depression is evidence of the latter.

Change you can believe your eyes in is coming when the currency collapses. Good luck with that.

Go Falcons!

Walker, Texas Ranger

March 5th, 2010
12:14 pm

Forget Robinson, did you see the guy get his head taken off in the clip.

Gwinnett Fred

March 5th, 2010
12:14 pm

Wouldn’t have really had a problem giving up a 3rd round pick for Cromartie either – but maybe we passed on that one if this signing is imminent!

dirtyo11

March 5th, 2010
12:16 pm

Dunta Robinson was very unhappy last year, and it showed on da field. Like Tusconwreck said we gotta put pressure on da QB. Now with Bosch, Charles Grant and several other decent DE are available this also would be a good signing besides Robinson. Rolle (FS) is available, we can use Dansby. If we sign Robinson and one more top notch defender we will be set. We can get Smoot or Harper for a low price to play nickle with Grimes.

Gatorzone

March 5th, 2010
12:17 pm

Canton, I agree. I think Turner was more of a function of being overused the year before. If he would lose about 35 lbs, he could have a Phenomemal season… Again.