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Arthur Blank Pleased With Free-Agent Haul


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Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank took a moment to talk about the state of his team during the owners' meetings in Orlando.

He addressed a variety of issues with ESPN.com reporter Calvin Watkins, including the free-agent additions made over the past few weeks.

The Falcons added arguably the greatest return man of all time in Devin Hester along with nose tackle Paul Soliai, defensive end Tyson Jackson, offensive guard Jon Asamoah, and cornerback/returner Javier Arenas.

"We had a great free agency," Blank told Watkins. "We clearly identified our greatest needs are our offensive and defensive lines. That's where the major moves are made in free agency."

Blank seemed particularly impressed with Hester, who was signed to a three-year, $9 million deal.

"We needed to definitely improve on special teams, and the addition of Devin Hester, we think, can still play at a very high level, we think can be a wonderful asset to our offense," Blank said. "Very impressed with him, met him at the combine when he first came out and saw him last week at the house and he came by the house for a chat. It's amazing how much he's matured, married, couple of kids etc., a nice young man. I like the corner, the addition of Arenas. (Assistant general manager) Scott Pioli working with Thomas [Dimitroff] has been a great addition, together with the rest of the personnel staff. I feel we're in a good place."

The additions of Soliai and Jackson symbolized the Falcons' upcoming move to more of a 3-4-based defense.

"Well, if you talk to Mike Nolan, our defensive coordinator, he wouldn't answer the question,'' Blank said, ``but I'm not sure if I can, but it appears to me that we're moving towards a 3-4 based on the players that we've picked up."

Blank said after the season that he firmly believed his team could go from worst to first after finishing 4-12 last season. The Falcons were 13-3 during the 2012 season, falling one game shy of the Super Bowl.

"It's an aspiration of 31 other owners and the coaches and general managers, so we have a lot of talent," Blank said. "Prior to last year, we had the second most wins over a five-year period, and including last year, the third-most. We're in a good place. The talent is there. And if we improve in some areas, we hope to be competitive."


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