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Falcons Team Report

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21 hours agoThe SportsXchange


They are not interested in former Pro-Bowl cornerbackBrandon Flowers at the present time, a team source told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Tuesday.With the quick development of young cornerbacksDesmond Trufant andRobert Alford, theAtlanta Falcons are set at cornerback for the time being.

The Falcons drafted Trufant and Alford in the first and second round of the 2013 draft and both played well as rookies.

"I know everything that's coming at me from seeing it all last season," Alford said. "Those mistakes that I made last year; I'm not willing to make them my second year."

After the team's offseason release of Asante Samuel, Trufant and Alford are the projected starters going into the 2014 season.

"Everybody is just going out there and competing like they want to win a job," Alford said. "You have to learn everything."

Josh Wilson, Robert McClain and Javier Arenas are battling for the nickel-back position. Wilson and Arenas were signed as free agents in the offseason.

Flowers, who was released by the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday (June 13), reportedly has been contacted by 10 NFL teams, including the Falcons. Flowers was released in part over his objections to playing inside at nickel back. There is no opening at cornerback in Atlanta.

Flowers might have been too expensive for the Falcons. He was set to make $5.25 million in 2014 and $7.5 million in 2015. He likely wants a new contract on par with his old one in Kansas City.

The Falcons, with 89 players under contract, have $9.258 million available under the $133 million salary cap, according to NFLPA documents. Signing Flowers and working a contract extension for wide receiver Roddy White would push the Falcons close to the cap.

Last season, the Falcons retained almost $7 million in cap space in case of emergencies.


--The Falcons believe they solidified their backup quarterback position by trading for T.J. Yates and releasing Dominique Davis.

The Falcons have been living on the edge at the backup quarterback position, should anything happen to Matt Ryan, since parting ways with Chris Redman.

In 2012, they added Luke McCown as quarterback insurance, but didn't re-sign him for 2013. Last season, Davis, a former undrafted player from East Carolina, was the backup quarterback, but played quarterback in only one game.

So basically, after making it through two seasons without an experienced backup, the Falcons pulled the trigger on a trade to land Yates late Wednesday night from the Houston Texans. He has played in 13 NFL games.

The Falcons sent backup linebacker Akeem Dent to the Texans for Yates.

"You always want to have an (experienced) backup quarterback if you can," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "That doesn't always work out, but T.J. has played in games. He's played in big games. He's won a playoff game for the Houston Texans.

"So, he is an experienced player. We look forward to getting him here."

Yates, 27, was forced into action during his rookie season after Matt Schaub and Matt Leinart sustained injuries. He made his first NFL start against the Falcons and led the Texans to a 17-10 victory on Dec. 4, 2011. Yates completed 12-of-25 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown.

In 13 career games with Houston, Yates completed 101-of-166 passes (60.8 percent) for 1,100 yards with three touchdowns, six interceptions, and had a 71.4 passer rating.

Yates played in six games as a rookie in 2011, including five starts, leading the Texans to a 3-3 record by passing for 949 yards on 82-of-134 passing (61.2 percent) with three touchdowns, three interceptions and an 80.7 passer rating.

Davis, 6-3, 210 pounds, was signed by the Falcons as a college free agent following the 2012 NFL draft. After a so-so exhibition season, he served as the team's backup quarterback last season, making his NFL debut at Tampa Bay on November 11, 2013.

He completed 5-of-7 passes before leaving the game because of a knee injury.

"We are always trying to put the most competitive roster in place to give us the best opportunity to win," Smith said. "This was an opportunity that came up for us. We felt like it's going to create a very competitive atmosphere for us where we need to have some competition."

--The Falcons had drafted linebacker Akeem Dent and envisioned him taking over for Curtis Lofton. Atlanta, which was lining up to take on Matt Ryan's hefty contract extension, didn't have enough money to retain Lofton and let him leave during free agency.

However, Dent was not able to fill Lofton's shoes after being made the starter during the 2012 season. Last season, he was benched for not making enough plays.

"We appreciate everything that Akeem Dent has done for us over the last three years," coach Mike Smith said.

--The Falcons signed linebacker Tim Dobbins to a one-year, $855,000 contract. He will serve as a backup linebacker and play on special teams.

With Sean Weatherspoon injured, the Falcons were looking at veteran free-agent linebackers and worked out Dobbins, Nick Barnett andJonathan Vilma.

Dobbins played for Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in Miami during the 2010 season.

"Dobbins has a lot of experience," coach Mike Smith said. "He has games under his belt. It's going to be important that we have some guys who have played some games."

Smith appears ready to move ahead with a very youthful linebacker corps that will be backed up mainly by Dobbins.

Second-year players Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow, who were undrafted players last season, have been working with the first-team defense.

Also, Smith said linebacker Prince Shembo will receive a chance to compete for a starting position.

"I think it's going to be a good battle with the young linebackers to see who is going to step up," Smith said. "Prince has had a good camp. It's going to be a very good battle for those young guys."

--A key reason the Falcons are not going to sign free-agent linebacker Jonathan Vilma is that they are extremely pleased with the development of Paul Worrilow. Worrilow led the team in tackles last year as an undrafted free agent linebacker from Delaware. He is growing steadily over the offseason.

"I'm a lot more comfortable," Worrilow said. "I spend almost every day in here."

--With the retirement of center Todd McClure, the Falcons had a leadership void along the offensive line last season. The team hopes left tackle Sam Baker and left guard Justin Blalock can fill that void this season. "The older guys are going to be leading by example," Blalock said. "We try to do things the right way so that everyone else can see and try to set a standard for what is going to be tolerated in the room."


A closer look at the Falcon's picks:

Round 1/6 -- Jake Matthews, T, 6-5, 308, Texas A&M

--Matthews played right tackle for three seasons at Texas A&M before moving to left tackle last season. "Again, we couldn't be more excited to have him aligned at the right tackle spot," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "We are not projecting Sam (Baker); he is our left tackle."

--Round 2/37 -- Ra'Shede Hageman, DE, 6-6, 310, Minnesota

--Hageman played nose tackle for his final two seasons with the Gophers, but the Falcons said he'll play defensive end. Falcons coaches got an up-close look at Hageman during Senior Bowl week, where he dominated the one-on-one drills the entire week.

Round 3/68 -- Dezmen Southward, S, 6-0, 211, Wisconsin

--The Falcons released starting free safety Thomas DeCoud over the offseason and are counting on the athletic Southward to win the starting spot. He has a 42-inch vertical and ran a 4.39 40-yard dash. He had a 31 Wonderlic score. The Falcons are fine with his medicals after he was excluded from the combine because of wrist and spine injuries.

Round 4/103 -- Devonta Freeman, RB, 5-8, 206, Florida State

--Freeman, 5-foot-8 and 206 pounds, rushed 173 times for 1,016 yards last season. He became Florida State's first 1,000-yard rusher since Warrick Dunn accomplished that feat in 1996. He will compete for a backup spot behind Steven Jackson.

Round 4/139 -- Prince Shembo, OLB, 6-1, 253 Notre Dame

--Over his career at Notre Dame, he posted 145 tackles (24.5 for loss), had 19.5 sacks and 35 pressures. Shembo started 34 of 51 games at Notre Dame. He played 26 games at right outside linebacker and eight on the left side. He's considered a 3-4 outside linebacker with edge-rushing ability.

Round 5/147 -- Ricardo Allen, CB, 5-9, 187, Purdue

--He holds the Purdue record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns. He played 50 games and made 48 starts for the Boilermakers. Started all 12 games as a freshman.

Round 5/168 -- Marquis Spruill, LB, 6-1, 231, Syracuse

--Played at Fork Union Military Academy after not attracting any scholarship offers coming out of Hillside, N.J. He played strong side linebacker the first two seasons before moving to play middle linebacker the last two seasons. His 41 tackles for loss rank second in school history.

Round 7/253 -- Yawin Smallwood, MLB, 6-2, 246, Connecticut

--He played middle linebacker for the Huskies and flowed well to the ball. He was a team captain.

Round 7/255 -- Tyler Starr, LB, 6-4, 250, South Dakota

--He was the Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year. He started 11 of 12 games and had 71 tackles and forced four fumbles. He was ejected for targeting against Missouri State and had to sit out the first half against Indiana State.


UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)

--TE Chase Coffman (not tendered as UFA).

--LB Omar Gaither (not tendered as UFA).

--T Sean Locklear (not tendered as UFA).

--T Jeremy Trueblood (not tendered as UFA).



--WR Drew Davis (tendered $570,000) was a valuable reserve who will compete for a backup spot in training camp.


--T Jake Matthews (1/6): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--DE Ra'Shede Hageman (2/37): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--S Dezmen Southward (3/68): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--RB Devonta Freeman (4/103): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Prince Shembo (4/137); 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--CB Ricardo Allen (5/147): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Marcus Spruill (5/168): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Yawin Smallwood (7/253): 4 yrs, terms unknown.

--LB Tyler Starr (7/255): 4 yrs, terms unknown.


--S Jonathan Babineaux: Potential UFA; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

--C/G Joe Hawley: Potential UFA; $6.5M/2 yrs, $3M guaranteed.

--LB Justin Hickman: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--DT Peria Jerry: UFA; terms unknown.

--T/G Mike Johnson: Potential RFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--CB Robert McClain: RFA tendered at $1.431M with 7th-round pick as compensation); $1.431M/1 yr.

--DT Corey Peters: Potential UFA; $1M/1 yr.


--CB Javier Arenas: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--G Jon Asamoah: UFA Chiefs; $22.5M/5 yrs, $8M guaranteed.

--OL Gabe Carimi: FA Buccaneers; $850,000/1 yr, $65,000 SB.

--LB Tim Dobbins: FA; $855,000/1 yr.

--WR/KR Devin Hester: UFA Bears; 3 yrs, terms unknown.

--DT Tyson Jackson: UFA Chiefs: $25M/5 yrs.

--S Dwight Lowery: FA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--TE Bear Pascoe: UFA Giants; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--DT Paul Soliai: UFA Dolphins; $33M/5 yrs, $14M guaranteed.

--CB Josh Wilson: UFA Redskins; 1 yr, terms unknown.

--QB T.J. Yates (trade Texans).


--WR Kevin Cone: Not tendered as ERFA/Dolphins; terms unknown.

--QB Dominique Davis (released).

--S Thomas DeCoud (released/post-June 1 designation).

--LB Akeem Dent (traded Texans).

--FB Bradie Ewing (released).

--CB Dominique Franks: Not tendered as UFA/Ravens; terms unknown.

--TE Tony Gonzalez (retired).

--LB Stephen Nicholas (released).

--G Garrett Reynolds (released).

--CB Asante Samuel (released).

--RB Jason Snelling (retired).

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