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Falcons' draft fate rests on coin flip


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Falcons' draft fate rests on coin flip

Atlanta will find out if it picks 3rd, 4th or 5th Friday

By STEVE WYCHE

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 02/19/08

Flowery Branch The Falcons will learn Friday whether they will hold the third, fourth or fifth selection at the NFL draft April 26-27. A coin-flip tiebreaker will be held at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, which begins today when prospects report for physicals.

Atlanta, Oakland and Kansas City finished with 4-12 records. The Falcons and Raiders flip for the No. 3 pick, behind Miami and St. Louis respectively. The loser is then paired against Kansas City to round out the top five in order.

Falcons' Newly hired Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff will decide whether to call heads or tails at the highly important coin toss. That will be just one of several pending decisions for Dimitroff and the Falcons.

A look at what could be next:

" The possible trading of the draft pick: "Philosophically, I'm not averse to one or the other. I have no strong feelings about one move or the other. If we deem we don't have exactly who we are looking for on our radar screen between 3 and 5, we'd consider it. If we have that person and we think he is going to impact us and contribute right away, we'll go straight forward on that."

" More player cuts: To get to the projected baseline of $23 million in salary-cap space, Atlanta will need to trim more than $6 million off its existing payroll. Dimitroff said Tuesday that no decision had been made regarding the roster but left little doubt that more changes could be in store following the release of seven players on Friday.

" DeAngelo Hall's future: Coach Mike Smith wants the two-time Pro Bowl cornerback on the team. Hall, who has one-year left on his contract, recently said he wants to be back, but he won't play next season without an extension. The Falcons have not committed long-term to Hall and are exploring trade possibilities.

"DeAngelo is a top-notch talent, and we're still evaluating," Dimitroff said. "I know coach Smith definitely wants him on the team. He makes this team better."

" Securing linebacker Michael Boley and defensive end Chauncey Davis: Both are restricted free agents whom the Falcons want to retain. Atlanta will place tenders on each by Feb. 29, the start of free agency. Boley is expected to be tagged with a first-round tender, meaning any team that signs him to an offer sheet must compensate the Falcons with a first-round pick.

Davis likely won't get a first-round tag, but the Falcons will tender him to retain the right of first refusal. Long-term deals could be worked out for both players before next season.

" The quarterback situation: Joey Harrington and D.J. Shockley, who is rehabilitating from season-ending knee surgery, are the only quarterbacks signed through next season. The Falcons could re-sign Chris Redman, but Dimitroff and Smith said they want to evaluate the college quarterbacks at the combine this weekend before making a decision on free-agent quarterback options.

"We're really stepping back with the quarterback position being as important as it is," Dimitroff said. "We're really concentrating on the combine. I don't want to comment on the quarterback situation until we really hone in on what's at the combine."

" Monitor the health of Trey Lewis, Todd Weiner and Brian Finneran: All suffered season-ending knee injuries. The possibility of any one missing training camp could lead to finding replacements in the draft or free agency.

"That's always a concern when you're dealing with rehabilitations," Smith said. "You have to have contingency plans. If everything goes well, it's different. We'll get updates as we go through the progress. There can be setbacks once they start their real physical rehabilitation out on the field. We'll have an idea where they are as we get ready for the draft."

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