A long lockout might leave the Falcons without a needed DE

Ray Edwards: New heavyweight champ? (AP photo)

Ray Edwards: New heavyweight champ? (AP photo)

The draft came, yielding Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers, and then it went. The Falcons bettered themselves (by a lot) on offense, but not on defense. For that to happen, they need free agency to happen.

And it might. It also might not.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the NFL owners a permanent stay Monday in this bewildering game of negotiation-via-litigation, which essentially means the players, who were briefly unlocked-out last month, will have to keep organizing their own Organized Team Activities. The Court of Appeals set June 3 as the date for a further hearing, but since that hearing will be conducted before the same body that just voted 2-1 in favor of the owners, the players shouldn’t expect any relief.

The upshot: The players are in real trouble. They out-lawyered the NFL early, but the NFL, which is a league built on comebacks, fashioned a rousing courthouse comeback. The players now have two choices: Either they stick to their beliefs and try to win via mediated negotiation — good luck with that — or they cave.

If they don’t cave, there’s a good chance the NFL won’t go to training camp on time. If the NFL calendar gets pushed back significantly, there’s a chance any settlement, assuming there is one, would essentially wipe out free agency for 2011. (Guys who were supposed to become free agents would go back to last year’s team at last year’s pay, goes the thinking.) And that wouldn’t help the Falcons find their defensive end.

Pretty much everyone, esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetter chief among them, has identified Minnesota defensive end Ray Edwards as a Falcons target. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent, and the Vikings placed a first-round tender on him. But it’s clear, from this story by Mark Craig in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, that Edwards wants out.

(Oddly enough, Edwards has a professional sporting event scheduled for this weekend, lockout notwithstanding. He’s to make his debut as a boxer at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minn. No word on whether he has hired Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith to work his corner.)

Back to the lockout. The longer it lasts, the worse things look for teams still looking to add. The good news for the Falcons is that they were in better shape than most already. The less-good news is that they still need a defensive end, and the clock’s ticking.

By Mark Bradley

69 comments Add your comment

juvenal

May 17th, 2011
11:52 am

free agent needed

Mark Bradley

May 17th, 2011
11:53 am

Tacit kudos, juvenal.

juvenal

May 17th, 2011
11:53 am

or passing on Bowers or Houston looks rougher….

Spanish Speaking Sicilian

May 17th, 2011
11:56 am

Third…

Greetings from Sicily…great read, MB…

GStateBen

May 17th, 2011
12:04 pm

Right, passing on a guy who will not be playing in 2011 due to a knee injury and a moron who smoke weed prior to the NFL Combine. Yep. Passing on those guys sucks.

Come on man!

Sioux Falcon

May 17th, 2011
12:05 pm

Mark Bradley, If there is no season this coming year, I know it would hurt the players ,how long will it take that the owner’s would feel the pinch.

Outside Observer

May 17th, 2011
12:06 pm

Mark,
Do you believe that Edwards will be able to solve the problems with the pass rush the Falcons have been exhibiting for years now? Or could he be a slightly overrated player because of the supporting cast around him (Both Williams and Allen)?

Mark Bradley

May 17th, 2011
12:06 pm

Why, thanks, Spanish Speaking Sicilian.

MightyQuinn

May 17th, 2011
12:08 pm

My money’s on the owners winning this time ’round, although I sympathize with neither. Whats your take, Mark?

Re Outside Observer

May 17th, 2011
12:09 pm

Very good point. I have not thought about that. I wonder if that is the case. Maybe we could trade for Allen?

Mark Bradley

May 17th, 2011
12:10 pm

I don’t know that Edwards solves everything. But he’s a proven pass rusher and he is — at least at the moment — a free agent.

Mark Bradley

May 17th, 2011
12:11 pm

I think the owners have beaten the players in court and will eventually win in negotiations.

DG

May 17th, 2011
12:16 pm

How do you give a 1st round tender without a 1st round pick next year?

Mark Bradley

May 17th, 2011
12:21 pm

That’s a good question, DG. But there’s no certainty that the tag “restricted free agent” will hold after the settlement, assuming there is one. There’s considerable thought that the players won’t budge on wanting unrestricted free agency for five-year players, which Edwards is.

ATL Fan

May 17th, 2011
12:22 pm

So, do the football wives need to be the ones that the owners negotiate with?

MightyQuinn

May 17th, 2011
12:24 pm

Yep, billionaires versus millionaires. My grandpappy used to always say, “The race ain’t always to the swift, not the battle to the strong….but thats the way to bet.” I’d say billions beat millions, but the problem is BOTH beat us, the average fan.

Mike Smith

May 17th, 2011
12:25 pm

Good article, Mark. Hopefully they will get this thing worked out soon. The Falcons are all in to win right now, so they need free agency and that DE this year.

MightyQuinn

May 17th, 2011
12:25 pm

That was supposed to read “nor the battle” not “not the battle.” Fire my editor! What? Oh, never mind.

Marcus

May 17th, 2011
12:29 pm

MB,
How would we work that deal anyway …. if MIN put a 1st round tender on Ray Edwards, doesn’t that mean we will be giving up our *2013* 1st round pick? We already gave up the 2012 1st and 4th round picks respectively, as part of the draft day trade up w/CLE to get Julio.

ehh ….. not so sure about that R. Edwards deal ……..

[...] NFL lockout pending June 3 appealCBS NewsOwners Win Delay in Case, Keeping NFL ShutNew York TimesAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog) -CBSSports.com (blog) -The Ageall 1,490 news [...]

Curious George

May 17th, 2011
12:33 pm

Can we send Winnipeg the Falcons instead of the Thrashers?

Just Me

May 17th, 2011
12:35 pm

No Football this year that will matter anyway. We will get a end next year when REAL football will be played.

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Curious George

May 17th, 2011
12:38 pm

Doesn’t Winnipeg just seem like the type of town that could use a little more “Diversity” in its professional sports scene, as many might argue that Atlanta could use a little less?

Fred

May 17th, 2011
12:43 pm

get it done..we want football……….

Hankie Aron

May 17th, 2011
12:45 pm

Curious George, People care about the Falcons generally, not many care about the Thrashers, I guess except for you .

SeenThisB4

May 17th, 2011
1:02 pm

MB: Would you say that a long lock out would be good for the Saints, bad for the falcan’ts and bucs, and especially bad for the panthers?

DC Dirty Bird

May 17th, 2011
1:15 pm

MB, I always assumed that once a new CBA is reached that Edwards becomes an unrestricted free agent regardless of the tender that was placed on his. If I’m not mistaken, that tender was placed on his before the season officially ended, meaning it was under the old rules for an uncapped season. Moreover, just because a team places a 1st round tender on a player, doesn’t mean he could not be traded for less. The tender is only to protect the originating team from losing a free agent for nothing should that free agent choose not to negotiate with them. With that said, if we have another uncapped year and the “agreed upon rules” require six years of service prior to free agency, we will unlikely be able to sign a free agent DE.

Here is a question, would you rather have Bowers or Houston next season over Sidbury. At least Sid has been practicing against pro level tackles and has shown that he has potential during preseason games.

Golden Gate Geezer

May 17th, 2011
1:19 pm

How about lowering ticket prices? Give some back to the fans you greedy dogs.

doggoneit

May 17th, 2011
1:20 pm

Well I’ll go back to my 42,000 per year salery and watch these spoiled brats fight it out!

TommyP

May 17th, 2011
1:27 pm

Yes, the Falcons wouldn’t fill their needs but none of the other teams would fill their FA needs, either. It’s not like everyone filled needs in the draft except for the Falcons.

Real quick, how bad was the Falcons “D” last year? The Falcons gave up the 5th least amount of points in the NFL last year. Please re-read that, folks.

1 bad playoff game means we must go after all of this defensive help????? Didn’t the Hawks base a major decision on strictly a playoff performance in the past? (i.e. Jon Koncak)

5th best scoring defense in the NFL last year. Calm down, people. Our offense is infinitely better now. That was a major problem in the Packers game last year, not just the defense.

Seen (Sean Payton) This (move his family out of NO) B4

May 17th, 2011
1:28 pm

Why would a long lockout be any different for the Falcons than the Saints? ATL had the best record in the conference last year and has the best record in the NFC over the last 3 years. A long lockout benefits all good teams–Saints and Falcons alike.

afrosheen

May 17th, 2011
1:30 pm

Chaz Bono would make a nice DE

Dr. Warren

May 17th, 2011
1:36 pm

If the owners win, does that mean we’re going to have 18-game seasons?

BirdDirty

May 17th, 2011
1:39 pm

Homegrown Charles Johnson from Georgia could have been had in the 3rd round by the Falcons in the 2007 draft. Instead we passed on Patrick Willis and Darrelle Revis in the first and picked Ludacris at #8. Then McKay turns around and drafts the sixth coming of Charles Dimry/Vinnie Clark/Bruce Pickens/Ron Davis/Michael Booker in the second round in Crisp Houston. Rich McKay should never be let inside our war room again.

SeenThisB4

May 17th, 2011
1:45 pm

A long lock out could help the Saints if the free agency period is eliminated or shortened up, or reverts back to last year’s rules, whereby, most if not all of the Saints free agents (and they had more than anyone else) revert back to restricted free agents.

And as for the fifth ranking of the falcan’t defense in points allowed, the question is, how was the passing yardage defense ranked? Which is what MB was discussing in his column, no free agency, no pass def. improvement for the falcan’ts, at least not thru free agency.

TommyP

May 17th, 2011
1:51 pm

SeenThisB4: My bad…I thought the scoreboard tallied up the points instead of yards allowed.

5th least amount of points given up in the NFL.

SeenThisB4

May 17th, 2011
1:53 pm

Oh, and a long lockout definitely hurts Carolina more than anybody else, cause they have a new QB, a new Coach, and a new system, none of which is going to be practiced or set in place during a full training camp if the lockout extends into August.

DC Dirty Bird

May 17th, 2011
1:53 pm

SeenThisB4, if I’m not mistaken, the Aints drafted several players to fill major holes (RB, DE). Would not a long lock out hurt those rookies chances of contributing forcing the Aints to basically field the same team they did last year. Now given those circumstances, would you take the 13-3 team that lost to the SB Champs in the playoffs or the 11-5 team that lost to the 7-9 junior varsity team from the NFC West in the playoffs?

SeenThisB4

May 17th, 2011
1:54 pm

TommyP: and what did that scoreboard give you as a Christmas present last year?

Seen (Sean Payton) This (move his family out of NO) B4

May 17th, 2011
1:55 pm

If the Falcons pass defense was so bad, how did they win 13 games? I agree that it needs to be improved and Rodgers carved them up…but a only two games earlier they held their own vs. Brees and the Saints high-powered offense. I just don’t see how the lockout gives NO the edge over ATL or vice versa.

juvenal

May 17th, 2011
1:56 pm

wow, they don’t fix knees? & they might not be playing ‘11 anyway…..let’s see 2-3 years from now, Bowers was a top 5 who fell for what was hopefully a tempoary reason, Jones good, but at what price? Falcons were counting on DL free agents……any CU folks think he’s done?

DC Dirty Bird

May 17th, 2011
1:59 pm

juvenal, they do fix knees, but full recovery from microfracture surgery isn’t guaranteed. 3rd round is where most teams consider taking risky picks on needs.

SeenThisB4

May 17th, 2011
2:01 pm

@ Sean Payton Moved his family out of NO, I have pondered that question myself!

I guess all those poorly officiated games had something to do with it, at least in part. And those bone head opposing place kickers that choked on on chip shot field goals. In other words, the falcan’ts got lucky.

BTW, Payton moved his family from Mandeville Louisiana to some suburb of Dallas, so he never was in NO. He plans on renting a condo next to the Saints practice facility, which will eliminate his 90 minute commute and give him more time to game plan the falcan’ts and the other opposing teams. Not a big deal.

Seen (Sean Payton) This (never move his family to NO in the first place) B4

May 17th, 2011
2:02 pm

I think we outplayed NO in the first meeting (held the ball for the entire second quarter, plus a bad call on that punt w/ DeCoud that shouldn’t have been a turnover), but I will agree that we got lucky in one if not both of the TB games. Still, that makes us an 11 win team…it’s not like we’re coming off a 4 win season….on the flip side, do you have any concerns about NO’s D, given what happened vs. Seattle?

FACTS

May 17th, 2011
2:16 pm

Doesn’t really matter if free agency is wiped out….that means you will have a lot teams that will have problem players return to their squads that really don’t won’t to be there…..meaning they will not get max effort for their dollars creating another problem….if this does happen I think there will some blockbuster trades before the deadline….players like Asomugha the CB from Oakland may end up with a new home quicky….there will still be movement of players one way or the other

Mr. Obvious

May 17th, 2011
2:19 pm

ATLANTA SPIRIT GROUP and ITS CUSTOMERS:

Mike Vick treated his dogs better.

Berens

May 17th, 2011
2:22 pm

I heard with the dollar tanking and a long lockout, there’s a chance the Falcons could be sold to Winnipeg.

TommyP

May 17th, 2011
2:22 pm

Mark: Concerning Ray Edwards….did anyone consider that maybe Jared Allen’s double teams and the attention given to Minnesota’s DT’s contributed to Edwards’ year?

That always concerns me about lesser-known DEs playing opposite star DEs.

FACTS

May 17th, 2011
2:24 pm

This will not be a victory for the owners either….every team will be in the same boat….returning injured & rehabbing players or players with expiring contracts will be a big issue….what will teams do with these type of players if they really didn’t want these players back anyway…if these players are automatically brought back with last years salary how much of it will team have to pay if they release the guy….HMMMM.????