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Falcons wave goodbye to LJ Smith


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Falcons wave goodbye to L.J. Smith

11:36 am March 16, 2009, by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Like Beyonce (above) sings about in her hit song, it doesn't appear that L.J. Smith and the Falcons will be putting a ring on it. The marriage is over before it started.Had to take a little basketball break the last few days.Had to take a little basketball break the last few days.Had to take a little basketball break the last few days.

A little basketball break was in order.

Been zipping back and forth to Macon and to see Whitefield Academy claim its second Class A boys state title. Hats off to AD John East and coach Tyrone Johnson and the rest of his staff. (Full disclosure: one of the Ledbetter girls cheers for the J.V. squad. Got to support the Wolfpack.)

Also, had to watch some of the conference tournament games to get ready for the Big Dance.

While I was off getting my basketball fix, the Falcons and tight end L.J. Smith were still square dancing at the Free Agency Ball. But the waltz appears over, according to a source close to the negotiations. Smith’s lack of blocking ability isn’t a scheme fit for the run happy Falcons.

The dancing is finally over and in the words of Beyonce Knowles they are not going to be putting a ring on this once blooming marriage.

Smith’s options were down to Detroit and Atlanta. It seemed like the Falcons would easily be the winner. But Smith dragged his feet and the Falcons had a change of heart. In the end, they are a running team and Smith doesn’t block. That’s what football teams call “a bad scheme fit.”

Now, as far as the Falcons are concerned, they could have put a “Waffle House - Pancake” clause in Smith’s contract.

A little incentive clause for pancake blocks could have been a good motivator for Smith. They could have started at $200,000 after five pancakes and another $350,000 after 10 pancakes and so on.

That way Smith would have had added incentive to block and the Falcons offense would not have suffered when he was in the game.

In an ideal world, you need the tight end to block and catch. Maybe the Falcons could have made Smith go with offensive line coach Paul Boudreau and his assistant Paul Dunn during mini-camps. Those two could have got him re-dedicated to the blocking game.

LET’S JUMP AROUND A LITTLE BIT

MILLOY UPDATE: Former safety Lawyer Milloy has been in some initial talks with teams, according to his agent Todd France.

ON THE ROAD AGAIN: The Falcons were represented at West Virginia’s pro day last week. Quarterback Pat White attracted most of the attention, but linebacker Mortty Ivy was of some interest.

He’s a smart kid, who played quarterback in high school. He helped himself by running a faster 40 time than the 4.88 he ran at the scouting combine. He’s 6-foot-1, 248-pounds and played weakside at West Virginia. Some consider him a strongside linebacker in the NFL.

A couple of key pro day stops for the Falcons this week are Pittsburgh on Tuesday and the University of Georgia on Thursday.

http://blogs.ajc.com/atlanta-falcons-blog/...t-a-ring-on-it/

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I firmly believe that we didn't sign L.J. Smith because we want to keep as many compensatory draft picks for next year's draft as possible. TD loves building the team through the draft, and right now it looks like we will get 2 extra compensatory picks in that draft.

You are probably right. LJ wasn't a good fit IMHO anyway.

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I firmly believe that we didn't sign L.J. Smith because we want to keep as many compensatory draft picks for next year's draft as possible. TD loves building the team through the draft, and right now it looks like we will get 2 extra compensatory picks in that draft.

We will find out about that theory in the draft ... if we somehow draft a receiving TE like Nelson, Cook or Ingram, or similar, we know that you're right and the "wrong system" comments were bogus, because he's still a better blocker than all 3 of them together.

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Just as long as it is not Pettigrew in the 1st...it's fine with me.

I think Pettigrew does reenter the equation as Atlanta's possible selection at #24, especially if the Falcons consider the TE as a position of need. I think Atlanta tends to draft according to BPA who fits the scheme at a position of need. The only other offensive position that I feel is a position of need for Atlanta is OT.

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I think Pettigrew does reenter the equation as Atlanta's possible selection at #24, especially if the Falcons consider the TE as a position of need. I think Atlanta tends to draft according to BPA who fits the scheme at a position of need. The only other offensive position that I feel is a position of need for Atlanta is OT.

IF (big if) TD and Smith consider TE a position of need and they want a all-around-TE (assuming that the "bad scheme fit" comment in the article is the truth), Pettigrew is the only option this season (good blocker, nice middle of the field target and could start right away playing every down) ... but I'm still not sure if I want him this season or Gronkowski in 2010 (assuming that he comes out early).

I somehow don't think we would draft a mid/late round TE to develop him, since we already have a project-TE on the practice squad.

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I firmly believe that we didn't sign L.J. Smith because we want to keep as many compensatory draft picks for next year's draft as possible. TD loves building the team through the draft, and right now it looks like we will get 2 extra compensatory picks in that draft.

Smith was one of the highest paid TEs last season with a cap hit of $4.5m in 2008. I would imagine that he would have wanted something comparable to that annual amount for 2009 and beyond. If so, Smith would have pretty much wiped-out the comp pick for Boley, which I think could possibly be a fourth-rounder, if Atlanta stays in a net loss situation in Free Agency. I also believe that Atlanta had a change of heart about Smith. They would have had to pay Smith starter+ salary, and he's probably not a good enough blocker to be an every-down offensive player for the Falcons, as the Ledbetter article indicates.

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The question being is TE a Position of need?

To an extent yes, but it is not a position of greatest need.

My take is OT.

I agree to the defensive needs but for our team to

stay on course we have critical need for depth on the O Line.

The best defense is the one on the sideline.

Based on the likelyhood of who will be available to us

my projections of need is.

DE, OLB, *OT,*DT, S, LB,

TE, S, and WR are addressed in 2010

* do not address later than the 3rd round

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Maybe they looked at Justin Peelle's tape and realized he caught everything they asked him to.

That's a good point. I was very impressed by him.....he is part of the reason why I think we are fine at TE. Our staff apparently liked Hartsock but we didn't see much off him before he got injured. He is a very good blocker and can catch the intermediate passes. Peelle really has some nice hands as well.

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I think Pettigrew does reenter the equation as Atlanta's possible selection at #24, especially if the Falcons consider the TE as a position of need. I think Atlanta tends to draft according to BPA who fits the scheme at a position of need. The only other offensive position that I feel is a position of need for Atlanta is OT.

Just say no to cop beaters.

Pettigrew is a cop beater. Just say "no"

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I firmly believe that we didn't sign L.J. Smith because we want to keep as many compensatory draft picks for next year's draft as possible. TD loves building the team through the draft, and right now it looks like we will get 2 extra compensatory picks in that draft.

i too think that is part of it. good point.

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The question being is TE a Position of need?

To an extent yes, but it is not a position of greatest need.

My take is OT.

I agree to the defensive needs but for our team to

stay on course we have critical need for depth on the O Line.

The best defense is the one on the sideline.

Based on the likelyhood of who will be available to us

my projections of need is.

DE, OLB, *OT,*DT, S, LB,

TE, S, and WR are addressed in 2010

* do not address later than the 3rd round

Well I agree that TE is not Atlanta's greatest need, but it still is an area of need. It apppears that Atlanta really wants to get a pass-catching TE to give Ryan an extra weapon. I have a feeling that they desire someone a little better than Peelle, hence the infatuation with someone like LJ Smith. However, Atlanta's greatest need on offense is at OT, where they are extremely thin. With Weiner's retirement all we have is Oji ,who is just a penalty waiting to happen, and Gandy who is an open gate. Baker might be somewhat injury-prone based upon his last season at Southern Cal and his first season with the Falcons.

Atlanta has lots of needs on defense. They need another DE who can really pressure the QB, and a run-stuffing NT to rotate with Lewis. Atlanta needs a Safety who can both cover and provide hard-hitting run support. They probably need a starting-caliber CB. I think Jackson is a good Nickle Back, but I don't think he has enough speed to be a starting CB.

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I'll wait until L.J. signs somewhere else...this is from the AJC.

QUOTE

"Griffey is a Brave!"

Orlando Ledbetter has been fairly accurate recently concerning the Falcons. I wouldn't dismiss what he is saying just because he works for the AJC.

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I think Pettigrew does reenter the equation as Atlanta's possible selection at #24, especially if the Falcons consider the TE as a position of need. I think Atlanta tends to draft according to BPA who fits the scheme at a position of need. The only other offensive position that I feel is a position of need for Atlanta is OT.

Walterfootball's mock draft updated today (March 17) has Atlanta taking Pettigrew in round 1:

"Atlanta Falcons: Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Oklahoma State

Now that the L.J. Smith-Atlanta rumors have died down - and thankfully so for Falcon fans - I can re-mock Brandon Pettigrew at this spot again.

Atlanta's offense would be really lethal if the team somehow acquired a dynamic pass-catching tight end. Matt Ryan would be unstoppable. Pettigrew also brings his elite blocking skills to the table, making him a great fit for this team. "

http://www.walterfootball.com/draft2009.php

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I think the fact that they were trying to sign a TE for a year or two should tell you that they're trying to avoid taking a TE in this year's draft... at least a high round TE. Pettigrew won't be a Falcon.

Really think about what you're saying.

YEs, the consideration of Smith was so that we wouldn't need to spend a high pick on a TE....we are no longer signing Smith...how do you add up 1 and 1 and get -14?

TE was a big need, and now it still is. I could easily see Pettigrew in the 1st, or Nelson/Cook in the 2nd.

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