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  1. Will Julio Jones have added incentive to join Falcons for camp? Vaughn McClure The Atlanta Falcons and Julio Jones might not be on the same page regarding renegotiating his deal right now, but adding incentives for 2018 might be the team's best hope to appease the star receiver in the interim. The Falcons made it known to Jones last month, as Adam Schefter confirmed, that they have no plans to extend him this season, with three years and almost $35 million left on the five-year, $71.25 million contract extension he signed in August 2015. But Schefter also reported that the Falcons could add incentives to modify the current deal. Jones is due to make $10.5 million as a base salary this season. Jones made $35,506,045 -- or an average of $17.75 million -- in the first two years of the front-loaded deal. "The only way I see where both sides can save face is through incentives," one current NFL agent told ESPN on the condition of anonymity. "If they give him some incentives that he possibly can achieve, then he can make more money. And the Falcons can sell it [to ownership] because they're able to get some productivity out of it. "He had, what, three touchdowns last season? If he has four to five touchdowns, then you have it where he makes $250,000 or $500,000. If he gets six to seven touchdowns, he makes $1 million. If he has eight-plus, he makes $1.5 million." Playing time and team offensive statistics are more examples of incentives the Falcons could present to Jones and his agent, Jimmy Sexton. There is no limit to the number of incentives the Falcons could tie to Jones' current deal, but adding not-likely-to-be-earned incentives (NLTBE) is the typical goal in this type of situation. Such incentives wouldn't affect the team's salary cap immediately. If the Falcons added a likely-to-be-earned incentive, such as 80 catches or 1,400 receiving yards -- numbers Jones has reached in each of the past four seasons -- then those incentives would directly affect the Falcons' 2018 cap. According to the latest NFLPA figures, the Falcons have $5,661,067 in cap space, a figure likely to fluctuate with the prioritized extensions anticipated for left tackle Jake Matthews, nose tackle Grady Jarrett and free safety Ricardo Allen. Jones' current cap figure of $12.9 million ties cornerback Desmond Trufant for the team's second highest for 2018, behind quarterback Matt Ryan's $17.7 million. But would incentives be enough to lure Jones to training camp next week rather than his holding out, being fined $40,000 per day, and keeping the offense from practicing without its best player? It could depend on how discontented the four-time Pro Bowler is about the contract situation. As Schefter reported, Jones is not happy that the news of his not getting an extension has leaked publicly. The Falcons seem more than willing to address a Jones extension after 2018 when he has two years left on his deal. However, they seem hesitant to set a precedent by reworking Jones' deal with three years remaining. The team typically extends players going into the final years of their contracts. "When you do something with your very best player, you're not setting a precedent for the whole 53-man roster," the agent said. "Teams all the time hide behind the word 'precedent.' They're trying to sell that because they'll say, 'If we do Julio with three years left, then every other guy with three years left is going to come to us.' No. When you're the best player at your position in the entire league, we'll talk. "The club can do right and acknowledge, 'Hey, we've got our guy a little underpaid, but not dramatically by any stretch because we did front-load the deal. But we'll give him something. And it's not a precedent-setter unless you're the best player in football."
  2. There are 10 days until Falcons training camp, so here are ten players who need to improve in 2018 Through injury and disappointing performance, these players will need to bounce back. By Dave Choate Jul 16, 2018, 12:00pm EDT With training camp just ten days away (!), it’s time to talk about the hopeful future that lies ahead. Part of that is discussing players who need to improve and hopefully will improve so that this team can reach new heights, hoist a Lombardi Trophy, and allow us all to die in peace at some indeterminate time in the future. Here are ten of them. QB Matt Ryan While Ryan was chiefly unlucky last year, there’s no point in denying that he had some lousy throws, especially early in the year. You also can’t pin the complete lack of red zone success with Julio Jones just on #11, and Ryan himself would tell you he needs to improve. If he does, even slightly, the offense ought to be considerably better and more consistent in 2018. RB Devonta Freeman Free’s issues were almost entirely injury-related, but they led to his worst season since he landed the starting job in 2015. Freeman’s multiple concussions and late season leg injury wound up eating into his production and ensured a lousy game against the Eagles. Now (hopefully) fully healthy, he needs to bounce back to ensure the Falcons have balance on offense. WR Julio Jones No one’s going to deny that Julio, who is currently angling for a new deal, is coming off a year that was a bit disappointing by his standards. He had one of the highest drop totals in the NFL, including a wide open touchdown against Carolina, and managed a meager three scores in 2017 altogether. He still was productive and impressive most of the year, but cutting down on the drops and improving his red zone performance will leave no doubt about his eliteness, especially among the fanbase. TE Austin Hooper For all intents and purposes, Hooper was a league-average starting tight end a year ago, which is perfectly fine. He has the talent to be more than that, as he showed in glimpses last season, and he’ll certainly want to have a big year if he wants to be a big part of this team’s future plans at the position. RT Ryan Schraeder The Falcons got a strong performance out of their offensive line in 2017, by and large, and weirdly the always great Schraeder was one of the weaker options. Wes Schweitzer was the weaker link and Andy Levitre’s late season injury was most costly, but Schraeder can and should return to form in 2018 as part of the offense’s renaissance. DE Vic Beasley Beasley’s 2017 was a tale of regression to the mean, mostly, but it was also a gifted player coming close and just missing. Mix in some reps at linebacker and Beasley’s year was a relatively quiet one, one that he’d like to put in the rear view and follow up with a double digit sack season as he rolls through the fourth year of his contract. It’s a pivotal year for him. DE Derrick Shelby The Falcons cut and then re-signed Shelby, a solid run stopper who hasn’t come close to being a major contributor for Atlanta through two seasons. With a tight four man rotation at defensive end at the moment, the Falcons need Shelby to be rock solid on early downs, especially if he wants a long-term deal. LB Duke Riley This is perhaps the most obvious choice on the whole list. Riley disappointed in his rookie year, but has more than enough ability and athleticism to turn this thing around in his second year. If he does, a great two man corps of linebackers will be stronger and deeper. CB Desmond Trufant Tru was typically good a year ago, but there were times you could tell he was coming back from a major injury. With that firmly in the rear view mirror, and with even more talent in the cornerback corps to help him out, I’d be stunned if Trufant didn’t punch a Pro Bowl ticket this season. P Matt Bosher It was a semi-quiet year for Bosher, who had his worst yards per punt average since his rookie season. The hard-tackling punter would surely like to remedy that as the entire special teams unit looks tor rebound for Atlanta in 2018. Who are you hoping will improve in 2018?
  3. I would add Brandon Fusco to the list. Hopefully, he will be able to stabilize the RG position and make the Offensive Line better as a whole. The old adage that you're only as good as your weakest link would seem very applicable to a group unit like the Offensive Line.
  4. There are 17 days until Falcons training camp, so here’s 17 players to watch Atlanta’s got plenty of players to watch, even with most competitions essentially sewn up. By Dave Choate Jul 9, 2018, 3:00pm EDT Believe it or not, we are just 17 days away from the beginning of training camp, including today. That means we’ll soon have real things happening at real practices to discuss, and I personally could not be more excited about that. In preparation for that, we’re going to start running down some of the story lines we’ll be watching ahead of camp, starting with this look ahead to 17 players from this 90 man roster that you’ll want to keep a very close eye on. As always, we welcome your suggestions for anyone we may have missed. QB Kurt Benkert: The rookie has a big arm and some real upside, and it’ll be worth seeing if he can grab a practice squad spot or steal a roster spot outright. RB Ito Smith: There are a couple of interesting undrafted free agents lurking in the margins here, so the Falcons will want to see something out of the 2018 fourth rounder. They do notwant to waste a pick the way they did with Brian Hill. FB Luke McNitt: The early favorite for the fullback gig, McNitt is a physical and confident blocker who paved the way for the Nebraska ground game. He’s my pick to win the job and should be watched closely along with competitors Daniel Marx and Ricky Ortiz. WR Calvin Ridley: Everyone’s going to be watching Ridley. He’s got a reputation as an advanced route runner and figures to get plenty of snaps in his rookie season, and the better he looks early, the more confident we can be in his chances of impacting the passing game early. WR Marvin Hall: There were flashes last year for Hall, who is the leading candidate to be the team’s fifth receiver in 2018 and could push for one of the returner gigs. There are a ton of competitors for that last spot, as there are every year, so it’ll be worth watching Hall to see if he can hold everyone off. TE Eric Saubert: The ultra-athletic second year tight end was in mothballs most of the 2017 season, but has drawn early praise for his work ethic and improvement. He has the talent to be a factor in the passing game, particularly in the red zone. T Ty Sambrailo: The presumptive swing tackle had decent moments but didn’t look like an inspiring option a year ago, and needs to show more heading into his second season. G Sean Harlow: Will he even make the roster? The athletic guard could be a factor down the line for an Atlanta team set to lose two veterans in 2019, but only if he survives this offseason. DE Takkarist McKinley: The Falcons are counting on McKinley to be excellent and to soak up a ton of snaps, and we’ll want to see improvement in camp after a quietly very good 2017. DE J’Terius Jones: The Falcons have a four man rotation at defensive end, but if they want to carry five players and give themselves a little more depth, Jones is the presumptive frontrunner. He flashed last summer at times and ended up spending the entire 2017 season with Atlanta, so he’s got a decent shot if the Falcons build their roster with five ends. DT Deadrin Senat: The rookie defensive tackle is strong as **** and was productive in college. How early will it translate over to the NFL? DT Jack Crawford: Is he fully healthy? If so, Crawford should be in line for a large number of snaps on third downs and obvious passing downs as a complement to Grady Jarrett. LB Duke Riley: He’s blazing fast and looked quite good at LSU at times, but he’s fresh off a disappointing 2017 season. The Falcons will be looking for Riley to step up and give them an interesting third option at the linebacker position. CB Isaiah Oliver: A stellar college cornerback with the length Dan Quinn covets, Olivershould start outside opposite Desmond Trufant in nickel sets, with Robert Alford kicking inside. He just needs to show he’s ready for the responsibility with a strong summer. CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson: Last year’s biggest surprise at the position, Wreh-Wilson played well enough to get C.J. Goodwin booted off the roster a year ago, and is probably a better corner than Justin Bethel. Can he make a strong case for a sixth cornerback gig or even shock and beat out Bethel? S Damontae Kazee: The second year safety and cornerback showed well in his limited 2017 action and figures to get time at multiple positions this summer. If he shows well, he might find himself earning playing time as a sort of a super sub. S Ron Parker: I was stunned when the Falcons got Parker in late June, given that he’s been a consistent starter for years now. Coming off his worst year in a while, will Parker prove to be a compelling third safety option for the Falcons? Share your picks to add to this list.
  5. Ron Parker’s one-year deal is for veteran minimum The new Falcons safety came as cheap as humanly possible. By Matthew Chambers@FalcoholicMatt Jun 26, 2018, 2:51pm The Atlanta Falcons are cleaning up, in part thanks to the exceptionally weird safety market this offseason. Players like Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro are still unsigned, depressing the market so significantly that the Falcons were able to add a veteran like former Kansas City Chiefs safety Ron Parker. How much did they get Parker for? Per Field Yates, almost nothing. Field Yates ✔@FieldYates Worth noting given the number of veteran safeties still looking for work: Ron Parker’s one-year deal with the Falcons is for the veteran minimum of $915K (cap hit of $630K). 12:19 PM - Jun 26, 2018 We know fans love stressing about cap space more than just about anything else in football. If we give Julio Jones an extension, how are we going to keep guys like Brooks Reed? The Falcons have over $6.6 million in cap space today, per Over The Cap. There is some money to spend, but not too much if they want to pay Calvin Ridley and enter the season with a healthy emergency fund. Parker actually helps more than a younger player. Not only does he have years of pro experience, the Falcons get $275,000 in cap relief for signing a veteran for league minimum. I would have been happy with either Vaccaro or Reid as well, but Dan Quinn reportedly tried signing Parker before he went to the Chiefs. Now he gets Parker for a significant discount as a backup. That’s a crafty move by Thomas Dimitroff, and should keep enough space to give Julio a potential small bump in pay.
  6. Sources: Falcons to sign safety Ron Parker Terez Paylor,Yahoo Sports The Atlanta Falcons are adding veteran depth to their secondary as they are expected to sign safety Ron Parker, sources told Yahoo Sports. Parker, 30, was released this offseason by the Kansas City Chiefs after starting 62 of 64 possible regular-season games the last four years. The 6-foot, 206-pounder has averaged 65 tackles per season since 2014, recording 40 passes defensed and seven interceptions. During his time with the Chiefs, Parker was at his best when allowed to play in coverage, either as a corner or deep safety. He also grew into a respected locker room presence and team spokesman, particularly last season, when star safety Eric Berry suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in the season opener. Parker recorded 67 tackles, four passes defensed and two interceptions in 2017, but his best season with the Chiefs came in 2015, when he had 78 tackles, 12 passes defensed, three interceptions and five sacks. With the Falcons, Parker joins a team that returns both of its starting safeties, Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. But Parker has experience as a corner, as well, and provides veteran depth in a league that is increasingly pass-happy.
  7. I think you meant Beasley. Trufant, possibly, but he hasn't quite been the same following his peck injury. Many would argue that Alford outplayed Tru last season.
  8. Bucs Nation calls Keanu Neal one of the best NFC South defenders The former first-round pick is called the Kam Chancellor of the NFC South. By Matthew Chambers@FalcoholicMatt Jun 25, 2018 The Atlanta Falcons have long been without a serious defensive playmaker. There were years fans just had to hope Akeem Dent wouldn’t miss too many tackles, or that Kroy Biermann looked good before he wore down. Things have changed since Dan Quinn took over, and rival teams are taking notice. Bucs Nation, the SB Nation Tampa Bay Buccaneers hub, ranked their top five defenders in a surprisingly stacked NFC South. As you probably figured out from the title, formerly overdrafted safety Keanu Neal made the cut, along with Gerald McCoy, Luke Keuchly, Lavonte David (ranked number two ), and Cameron Jordan. Bucs Nation additionally linked to a Bleacher Report writeup that believes Neal is on the fast track to become one of the league’s best safeties. He’s a playmaker from top to bottom, and already looks like William Moore in his prime. We like to jokingly point out that Pro Football Focus had Neal as the 5th worst pick of the entire 2016 NFL draft, but there were definitely questions about Neal’s coverage and inconsistent tackling in college. With options like Myles Jack and Shaq Lawson, the Neal pick felt like a big risk. Quinn obviously had the last laugh. Neal has already earned a Pro Bowl berth, and has been awesome early in his career.
  9. Falcons announce 2018 training camp dates The Falcoholic The Atlanta Falcons unveiled their upcoming slate of training camp practices, including those open to the public. That means you can watch the Falcons stretch and catch passes for free. Bring sunscreen and lots of water, because the fan area gets hot. On July 27, 28 and 30, and August 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8, the team will hold open practices for the public. Practices are planned to start at 9:20 a.m., and the gates for attending will open at 8:20 a.m., though, of course, times may vary. And, practices are weather permitting. Fans don’t get to go into the indoor practice facility. The team will have closed practices on July 31, and Aug. 5, 9 and 11. They open the preseason on the road against the New York Jets on Aug. 10. The team says “2018 AT&T Training Camp fan experience information regarding parking, policies, directions, etc. coming soon.” And, hey, if you want to read a quote from Dan Quinn about the upcoming training camp the team provided, we won’t keep it from you. “I told the team now there’s a break, [prepare your] heart, mind, body, soul to get ready,” Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said after the team’s final minicamp practice. “Base camp is over. We threw ourselves a good base camp. We’re ready, we’ve got our stuff together. Now it’s a matter of in these five weeks really putting out from a conditioning standpoint so when you come back here, we 100 percent get to see the best version of you. I imagine that this camp will look faster and more complete in a lot of respects.” If you’re planning on stopping by training camp that week, be sure to let folks know in the comments!
  10. Atlanta currently has $7,238,018 in available cap-space according to the NFLPA site and $7,273,197 of available cap according to OvertheCap.
  11. Terrell McClain’s new deal is heavy on the incentives, comes with just a $1.475 million cap hit The former Dallas and Washington defensive tackle is coming cheap for Atlanta. By Dave Choate Jun 13, 2018, 9:00pm EDT Terrell McClain signed with the Falcons for a contract that was originally reported as a one year deal worth over $4 million. That seemed a bit pricy for a team that had just used a third round pick on Deadrin Senat and already had Grady Jarrett and Jack Crawford at the position, but it was also an undeniable upgrade over what Atlanta had. The signing was rightly applauded at the time. Now, though? McClain looks like a dang steal. Matt Karoly@mattkaroly According to Over The Cap, Terrell McClain's deal with the #Falcons is a 1 year, $1.525M deal with $2.5M in NLTBE incentives (don't count against cap unless earned). Unbelievable coup by DQ and his staff. … 6:35 PM - Jun 13, 2018 McClain might very well earn $4 million-plus in 2018, but he’ll do so by playing a lot and playing well. His base salary, if Over The Cap is correct, is absurdly cheap for a starting-caliber player, even if he’s best suited as a two down option. McClain’s role this year isn’t established just yet, but he should get plenty of run next to Grady Jarrett on obvious run downs, and he remains a solid player in that role. We’ll get a better sense of how these snaps are going to be divvied up as the summer rolls on, but suffice to say McClain’s likely to have a role larger than his base salary would suggest. The Falcons now go four deep at defensive tackle, and assuming good health for Crawford and a solid rookie season from Senat, they may have one of the better groups in the NFL. This defense is full of riches, and McClain is a surprisingly affordable addition to the roster.
  12. I think a good position battle will be at back-up SS. Sharod Neasman has been SS#2 for the past two years, but was not resigned this year. I believe the roster battle will come down to several UDFAs: Quincy Mauger, Jason Hall, Tyson Graham, or Secdrick Cooper.
  13. I think Fusco will be the apparent starter. Although Quinn and Dimi say that there will be competition at the RG position, that is what you would expect them to say. From an article: "At the league meetings in Orlando, Quinn talked about each of the new additions to his roster. Quinn likes versatility in his offensive linemen and that’s what he saw in Fusco. Not only does he have experience in the wide zone scheme, his ability to pass protect was what really stood out to Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “We felt the interior spot at guard, we definitely wanted to address,” Quinn said. “Adding Fusco, we went in and looked at all the guards and centers. Sometimes in free agency it’s the centers that can play guard too. What we came out with is a guy in Fusco who has really good pass protection ability. That was one of the topics in our scheme that we really wanted to address inside. We liked the versatility in the run game. For us to play into the wide zone scheme, you have to have the ability to get lateral. We saw those two things and we saw him in that scheme which also was a good thing for us. We’ll put him right into the mix in the competition at the right guard spot.” Fusco will battle with Wes Schweitzer who started all 16 games for the Falcons at right guard in 2017 this training camp in what Dimitroff believes is one of the position battles expected to have “hot competition.”
  14. I see that last statement as most likely, with Alford kicking inside to the slot CB, and Oliver playing outside CB in most of the nickel packages. Kazee and Poole will probably fight for DB depth at FS and NB.