Mughelli, a reminder of Petrino era, cut by Falcons

Ovie Mughelli's contributions to the Falcons were outweighed by his salary. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Ovie Mughelli's contributions to the Falcons were outweighed by his salary. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

In the least surprising move of the Falcons’ offseason, they have released fullback Ovie Mughelli, effectively saving them $3 million on the salary cap.

In doing so, the team also eliminated one of the final remnants of the abbreviated Bobby Petrino era.

Few recall this but when Falcons owner Arthur Blank made the ill-fated decision to hand over the reins of his football team to Petrino in 2007, a major move that offseason was the signing of Mughelli. Petrino wanted a bulldozing fullback for his offense.

The former Baltimore Raven was a logical choice. What wasn’t logical was that Blank and then-general manager Rich McKay gave him a six-year, $18 million contract, a record for a fullback.

Mughelli wasn’t an awful player. But when you weigh his salary vs. his contribution to the team, it was a bad signing.

It didn’t figure that Mughelli would see the final year of his contract. The Falcons need the cap space and they drafted a fullback (Wisconsin’s Bradie Ewing) in the fifth round. Further, the team is holding a mini-camp this week and logically didn’t want to have to deal with questions about Mughelli’s status.

With the NFL recently granting the Falcons a $3 million salary cap credit for Michael Vick’s contract, the team is pretty decent shape with the cap. Conceivably, the might even have some space to sign a player who is cut from another team for cap reasons over the next few weeks.

Bottom line: Five years later, one mistake is now off the books.

By Jeff Schultz

104 comments Add your comment

Mick

May 8th, 2012
10:31 am

This was expected, good luck Ovie, you’ve been a warrior.

John

May 8th, 2012
10:35 am

Good Luck Ovie…. Thanks for helping Atlanta get back on the football map

[...] Mughelli had a cap number of $3.7 million for this season after signing a six-year, $18 million dollar deal in 2007 with then head coach Bobby Petrino at the helm. Any way you look at it, that number is way [...]

JBird

May 8th, 2012
10:38 am

I feel like this is a little harsh towards Ovie. He wasn’t an awful player? He was arguably the best fullback in the league who could demolish linebackers and catch TD’s. He was certainly paid a lot and this makes sense for the team, but Ovie will be missed, especially by Michael Turner.

vafalconfan

May 8th, 2012
10:41 am

Understand the business side of the cut, but we will miss a class individual and a player that gave his all every time he was on the field. He was the only bright spot from the quitrino era..that and his brother helping Roddy White.

JSS

May 8th, 2012
10:43 am

A mistake? No, he is one of the few UFA signings that has actually panned out for Flowery Branch! He was needed because of Dan Reeves infatuation with that no blocking and all eating TJ Duckett! Now, he was overpaid, no doubt, but hey, he was one of your best red zone receiving options other than Gonzalez…

And in terms of his work in the North Georgia charities, he was one of the best along with Warrick Dunn in making time and being effective in helping people and causes! He has paid them back in spades!

keepinitreal

May 8th, 2012
10:48 am

Mughelli was great at what he did, but fullbacks just don’t have much value in today’s NFL.

Thanks for your service to the team and community, Ovie.

Gwinnett Fred

May 8th, 2012
10:49 am

So this puts us around $6.5 below the cap, right.

Well, that’s one good thing about not having a 1st round pick – we shouls still have a few million left over after signing the draftees, putting us in real good position to claim a salary cap victim off another teams roster here in a few months!

Smoothie

May 8th, 2012
10:51 am

Come on Jeffy, save the vitriol for Joe Johnson, Vick and Petrino!

Yes, they overpaid, but you make it sound like he was a stiff. Class act and he has done a lot for the Atlanta community so I would say that he earned some of his coin off the field as well. A good ambassador for the game he was and will remain I am sure.

Good luck Ovie from a fellow Deac!

waynester

May 8th, 2012
10:54 am

Give TD some credit–we all saw the writing on the wall with Mughelli last season–we needed the change for monetary reasons and saw the inevitability of the situation, so we made a move. Mughelli now has time to show other teams if he’s healed and ready to play in time to make a full camp somewhere. It’s not like we shafted Ovie, at all–like others have said, he’s great in the community–he just isn’t needed as vitally under the new OC’s scheme as before….

PMC

May 8th, 2012
10:56 am

Bad signing? He’s been nothing but good here. When he was on the field he made up for an incredibly suspect offensive line. He goes down last year, the running game goes away.

Heck of a football player, but better human being. Very very sad to see him go.

RonnieMackAtl

May 8th, 2012
11:00 am

Any chance he comes back at a lower salary?

PaulieOldschool

May 8th, 2012
11:07 am

I agree that he was overpaid, but to my mind he never underperformed, either on or off the field. Yeah, it’s a business, but when we lose a class act, it’s never a good day on the personnel side of the business. Fair winds, Ovie, best of luck, thanks for all your contributions to the ATL, on and off the field, and I know you’ll land on your feet.

DK

May 8th, 2012
11:11 am

Jeff,

What exactly are you basing this appraisal of Mughelli’s contributions on? Take a look at Turner’s yards per carry and rushing yards with and without Mughelli in the lineup. The numbers speak for themselves. This is a lazy, Rob Parker-esque piece…

fb

May 8th, 2012
11:11 am

great guy but had to go….

Chattanooga Chuck

May 8th, 2012
11:17 am

Sad to see Ovie go, wish him the best.

The funny thing was that Petrino hardly used him after signing him to that big contract.

Jay

May 8th, 2012
11:23 am

Big ups to Ovie.. Always could count on Ovie to punish an LB & free up Turner.. Reason why he punish so many DB’s bc Ovie had destroyed an LB.. I bet we would’ve converted those 4th & 1’s that killed us last year if he was in there.. A team is about to get a good FB, good luck Ovie!1

Richard Morgan

May 8th, 2012
11:24 am

No way, was Ovie a bad signing. Did anyone realize that he helped us have one of the best run games in the NFL and, by the way, we could not score a running touchdown in the red zone after he went down with an injury last year? The man is a stud. If it was simply a money thing, so be it, but this does not diminish his abilities as a stud football player.

dean

May 8th, 2012
11:27 am

I never viewed Ovie as a reminder of Petrino. That’s like knowing your kid was actually fathered by your most hated enemy. I viewed him as a bulldozer with a smile. Let’s just hope he doesn’t appear on one of ATL’s opponents this year.

RecentWreck

May 8th, 2012
11:28 am

One of my favorite Falcons and the best FB we’ve had since Bob Christian… Unfortunately the business move makes sense, and I’m sad to see him go, but hopefully both sides part on good terms. Even injured, he still earned a chunk of his salary by the goodwill he fostered in the Atlanta community. Great player, great guy, Godspeed

Bluestreak

May 8th, 2012
11:30 am

Calling Ovie a ‘reminder of the Petrino era’ is a horrible way to note the time with the Falcons of a stand-up guy on and off the field. While his importance in the new offense may be less than in the previous ones, he’s still a good fullback and if we could resign him to a smaller contract, it’d be great to see him back. But I don’t think that will happen.

But don’t associate Ovie with one of the biggest scumbuckets on and off the football field. They couldn’t be less similar.

And for the DeCoud question, safety is still important to the defense, even if there is a new coordinator. And he can probably be coached up by a great mind like Nolan. BVG, well…he had a lot of players underperform. He’s the common thread. Watch, DeCoud will show up big this year.

dean

May 8th, 2012
11:32 am

Oh crap! I just saw the picture of Ovie and, no, I can’t say it, on DLed’s blog. You have to see for yourself. I’ll just call it a youthful indiscretion. He’ll learn who he shouldn’t associate with.

Happy St. Pat's!

May 8th, 2012
11:35 am

Like Hines Ward, Ovie is on the “All Heart Team.” Would love to have Ovie in our camp . . . an exceptional NFL fullback.

rivercard

May 8th, 2012
11:36 am

Let’s see Falcons do better when Turner does well. He needs a hole to run thru. We have an offensive line that if they were all cut tomorrow only McClure would stand a chance of being picked up In my 50+ years of watching football one of the worst I have seen. All-Pro fullback Ovie made Turner much better.
Our 5th round FB pick was rated as not being able to hold block, create holes and physically weak.

Sounds like a Falcon recipe for success. Kind of like hiring the lowest rated OC in league. But Falcons are always smarter than the facts.

Jeff, Saying Ovie was not awful was a low rent cheap shot. I am surprised

FA4lcons

May 8th, 2012
11:41 am

Ovie was decent when healthy, but he was a big cap hit for us. I like Ovie, but for that type of money he should’ve been a RB instead of FB. Big ups to him in his future. This is good the Falcons are finally not holding on to players and being too loyal. I think it is a good move and Turner will be out of there next year. We need a RB that hit the hole fast and can go the distance. Turner motor have to get going, before he can do that. Thanks to the guys up front that he is able to get what he does every season. They are finally starting to move in the right direction. Great move!

Jeff Schultz

May 8th, 2012
11:42 am

To reiterate my feelings about Mughelli, since some are under the impression I don’t like the guy: 1) He’s a solid guy; 2) He was a good player; 3) He was overpaid. Is No. 3 his fault? No. But his salary hamstrung the organization. You can’t have a $3 million guy playing 30 percent (or thereabouts) of offensive snaps.

Buckeye

May 8th, 2012
11:47 am

Ovie was a team guy and one of the good guys. Good luck and fare well Ovie.

Bluestreak

May 8th, 2012
11:58 am

Jeff,
Agreed, he was vastly overpaid for his percentage of plays. And coming off an injury didn’t help. So, definitely a smart business decision.

But you know how the name of ‘that’ person gets folks around here (and now in Arkansas) riled up.

I think that’s where most folks are getting hung up.

Verdict is in

May 8th, 2012
12:02 pm

Sorry Jeff,

No need to try to explain yourself – the bloggers have obviously made they statement that, based solely on this article, YOU are the bad signing.

You better come up with some serious community service you’ve done to prove otherwise.

BjohnDawg

May 8th, 2012
12:10 pm

This is a Joe johnson type of player.
not a bad player…just paid way too much for what he does.
3.7 milion a year to block on first and maybe second down.
Just way too much.
give a rookie $500,000 and watch him block just as well.
Take the other 3.2 million and shore up the line ( either side).

Delbert D.

May 8th, 2012
12:13 pm

The Petrino angle doesn’t sell, Jeff. Mughelli was a good fullback, receiver and team guy. It was about injury and finances.

FalconsFan

May 8th, 2012
12:20 pm

Despite his contract Ovie was a great player, he gave his all on the field and off the field in the Atlanta community. I’d rather see this bitterness saved for players who have done NOTHING for Atlanta.

Ovie you will be missed!

-Falcons Season Ticket Holder

Bucky

May 8th, 2012
12:20 pm

Well said, Jeff! Good Guy, Solid Player! Good Luck Ovie!

FalconsFan

May 8th, 2012
12:23 pm

Bad column Jeff, I’d expect this quality out of D.Led, not you.

where is Cadillac Eddie Ray when we need him

May 8th, 2012
12:25 pm

Ovie was, and is a solid guy/player. He’ll resign somewhere…maybe here at a lower price
except for the fact we drafted a fullback.

tuck fech

May 8th, 2012
12:29 pm

I’ve met him in person, and he is indeed a class act. I’ve never heard a more intelligent pro athlete speak than Ovie Mughelli. Best of luck to you, Ovie.

PMC

May 8th, 2012
12:29 pm

Jeff, It’s just relative though. The 3 million to Ovie where they actually were getting great production is not worse than the 5 million dollar overpayment per year for Dunta Robinson or about the same amount for non producing Ray Edwards, or 3 million completely wasted dollars for Sam Baker. Not to mention guys like Mike Johnson who have never done anything.

If I’m taking offense at a salary, even if the fullback is overpaid, I’ve got to start looking at the gross errors.

It’s like complaining about the Oil Change costing $75 when you paid 2 grand for a brake kit upgrade that doesn’t work right.

PMC

May 8th, 2012
12:29 pm

I mean seriously. The worst money paid in this city is to professional General Managers.

PMC

May 8th, 2012
12:32 pm

I mean 3 million dollars at least in overpayment this year is going to Brent Grimes because we didn’t take care of that last year.

Now we draft a Fullback in addition to Mike Cox? Ok. The Ovie contract wasn’t cap friendly I’ll give you that.

But we don’t seem to be very good in that area anyway.

Jamaaliver

May 8th, 2012
12:32 pm

Jeff Schultz said: “To reiterate my feelings, since some are under the impression I don’t like the guy: 1) He’s a solid guy; 2) He was a good player; 3) He was overpaid. Is No. 3 his fault? No. But his salary hamstrung the organization.”

Sounds like you were describing one prominent Hawks player with this description. =)

bigdon

May 8th, 2012
12:40 pm

Gotta agree it was not a bad signing, Jeffie. he did his thing as well as any other Falcon and a hell of a lot better than Baker, Edwards, the list is large. Can’t blame HIM for taking the money. Time passes and thiungs changed and he’s out and forgotten. All i care about is 2012 team and who’s on there and how they play because I’m vested in the future and the past really doesn’t exist. And I’ll have another bong toke, thank you.

Eb

May 8th, 2012
12:41 pm

A reminder of the disastrous McKay era. Thankfully he’s been relegated to new stadium planning.

tp

May 8th, 2012
12:44 pm

That’s too bad. Coach Vitt is going to have to re-work his “Go After Ovie’s Head” Falcons-Saints pregame speech.

Ted Striker

May 8th, 2012
12:51 pm

Ovie was overpaid however the Falcons were better with him than without him. And I’m not sure that he only played 30% of the Falcons’s offensive snaps (maybe that is true) when he was healthy.

p.s. I am out of bed

Terrell

May 8th, 2012
12:52 pm

As much as I liked Ovie as a person I wasn’t as impressed as some of you all were with him as a FB. I didn’t see the crushing blocks that open holes for Turner. What I mean by crushing is at 250+ pounds players should be dropping when you hit them. I didn’t see that. Bob Christian was smaller than Ovie and he was a better fullback in regards to opening lanes for our RBs when he played. Every now and then I saw a really good block by Ovie but there were times when I wonder were we better with just a single back? When Snelling played FB I saw him have more of an impact in regards to opening lanes. No he didn’t knock a guy to the ground but he engaged and cleared a path for Turner.

coloradofalconsfan

May 8th, 2012
12:57 pm

Not a surprise. It’s a financial move. I often wonder what would have happened on those 4th down runs had Ovie not got hurt last year and we had to play a scrub at FB. I hope Bradie Ewing will be a good replacement. Class move by releasing Ovie now in order to give him time to sign with another club rather than waiting until after the final preseason game.

DC

May 8th, 2012
12:58 pm

I’m loving all the people backing Ovie! Sorry jeff…sometimes you hit sometimes you miss…this is a def miss. Accept it and pump out another article so people forget this one haha

Rick James

May 8th, 2012
1:00 pm

Ovie will land on his feet..Best of luck to him.

I Got Mine at Leeman Bennett Ford

May 8th, 2012
1:00 pm

Good luck, Ovie!

You’re no longer a Falcon, but you’ll always be a class act/Demon Deacon!!!

(P.S. Not your best effort, Jeff.)

sldkfjslk

May 8th, 2012
1:03 pm

This is what’s wrong with Arthur Blank(check). He overpays for people which hurts the team. He did the same thing with Brooking. Brooking was a good linebacker but he was the highest paid in the league. If the Falcons want to be good they need to do a smarter job of allocating resources under the cap. There are other examples but the Falcons bore me too much to continue typing.