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With Upper Management Status Quo, Falcons Can't Afford Many More Misses


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With upper management status quo, Falcons can't afford many more misses

Vaughn McClure ESPN Staff Writer

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank gave a clue which direction he was leaning with general manager Thomas Dimitroff after his team lost to the New Orleans Saints in the season finale.

"They've had a great partnership this year, and I think that's a good reflection on both of them," Blank said, referring to the tandem of Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn.

So it wasn't shocking when Blank released a statement Friday saying the partnership with Quinn and Dimitroff would continue into the 2016 season, with Scott Pioili remaining on board to assist Dimitroff. The restructuring of the pro personnel and college scouting departments has already begun, although the specifics of those moves have yet to be announced.

The next step for the Falcons? Getting things right. They can't afford too many more misses in free agency or the draft.

Although Dimitroff can pound his chest a little for the drafting of Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Desmond Trufant, he also might want to cover his head about the selections of Peria Jerry, Peter Konz, and Dezmen Southward, as well as having an entire 2012 draft class that is not currently on any NFL 53-man roster.

Although Dimitroff traded for Hall of Fame-bound tight end Tony Gonzalez, free-agent acquisitions such as Osi Umenyiora and Steven Jackson never panned out as expected. Neither has the free-agent class of 2014, which included run-stuffers Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai and offensive lineman Jon Asamoah, who is now gone after an injury settlement. Those three received a combined $33 million guaranteed.

The first year of the Quinn-Dimitroff partnership had mixed results regarding bolstering the roster. Sure, the Falcons got a pass-rusher in Vic Beasley, but the rookie first-round draft pick had an average season with four sacks and revealed he played the entire season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder. The grade is incomplete on Beasley for that reason.

The Falcons' big free-agent "splash" was outside linebacker Brooks Reed, who signed five-year, $22.5 million deal that included $9 million guaranteed. Reed walked in the door dealing with groin injuries and eventually had preseason surgery. His impact was minimal, with 17 tackles in 331 snaps played.

Second-round draft pick Jalen Collins was supposed to be an immediately contributor with first-round talent, but the cornerback was an extreme disappointment and rarely saw the field on defense at season's end.

And the decision to cut ties with center Joe Hawley and put the position in the hands of converted guard Mike Person turned out to be costly. Person was abysmal snapping the ball, although he wasn't pulled until the last game of the season in favor of Gino Gradkowski. It's no wonder Ryan went on radio this week and said finding longevity at center is must.

Not to be forgotten was the acquisition of left guard Andy Levitre via a trade with the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons lost a sixth-round draft pick in 2016 and a conditional 2017 pick in the trade, and Levitre struggled when the team needed him to hold up the most. If the Falcons happen to part ways with Levitre, who is due base salaries $4 million, $5.25 million, and $7 million the next three seasons, it would leave another black mark regarding their decision-making.

Getting it right means securing protection for Ryan, and the entire interior of the offensive line should be addressed with bigger, more athletic players. Securing another pass-rusher opposite Beasley is a must, as is landing a playmaking linebacker. And the Falcons need a big receiver capable of beating one-on-one coverage to help alleviate the pressure on top target Julio Jones. Often-injured Leonard Hankerson wasn’t the answer.

The Falcons have five draft picks as it stands now after losing the sixth-rounder with Levitre and a fifth-rounder as result of the crowd noise violation from piping in sound. Regarding cap space, the Falcons are looking at about $20 million of space right now. That's before any players are released or any restructurings or extensions, so that number is sure to fluctuate.

Quinn was given final say over the 53-man roster, so it's time for him to really put his stamp on it. When he was the defensive coordinator in Seattle, he had players who had a certain edge to them. Not that the current group of Falcons is soft, but they could use a little more nastiness. That's why a player such as linebacker Bruce Irvin of the Seahawks makes sense, if he reaches free agency.

Most importantly for the Falcons is getting back into postseason contention. Mediocre won't be tolerated by the fans anymore, and Blank is extremely conscious of public opinion. He doesn't want a streak of four straight seasons without the playoffs going into the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in 2017.

Coming off an 8-8 season, the only place the Falcons can afford to go is up.

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From the article:

"Regarding cap space, the Falcons are looking at about $20 million of space right now."

I don't think McClure is correct with that cap-space number. I wonder if he has not factored in the 2015 carry-over rollover. I estimate the Falcons have almost $28 million of available cap space and started a recent topic thread to that affect. From that topic thread:

The Falcons 2016 salary cap situation in Total:

2016 Estimated Base Salary-Cap Total per team $150,000,000 (NFL guidance is between $147 million to $155 million. Spotrac uses $150 million)

2016 Existing Falcons Contracts scheduled cap-hits $121,683,573 (per Spotrac)

Falcons 2016 Existing Dead Money + $10,854,046 (Primarily remaining portion of Sam Baker's contract $6.4 million and Jon Asamoah's contract $3.9 million per Spotrac)

Subtotal Existing 2016 Cap Commitments $132,537,619 ($121,683,573 2016 existing contracts + $10,854,046 2016 existing dead money)

= Estimated remaining Salary-Cap before 2015 unused Roll-Over $17,462,381 ($150,000,000 cap per team - $132,537,619 commitments)

+ Estimated 2015 unused Roll-Over $10,359,832 (Per Spotrac)

= Estimated 2016 Remaining Falcons Salary-Cap $27,822,213

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"Although Dimitroff can pound his chest a little for the drafting of Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Desmond Trufant, he also might want to cover his head about the selections of Peria Jerry, Peter Konz, and Dezmen Southward, as well as having an entire 2012 draft class that is not currently on any NFL 53-man roster."

This is half baked anayslis. How about a little chest pounding for Jake Mathews, Devonte Freeman, Ryan Shraeder, Robert Alford, Ricardo Allen, Hageman, Demarco, Bosher and several other players who have been contributing not to mention this years crop of players like Grady Jarett, Vic Beasley etc?

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Did anybody really think Collins was going to be an immediate contributor?

No, and Vaughn should know this. It's common knowledge he was considered a player who was going to have to be developed but that his skill set, size and athleticism were such a perfect fit for Quinn's scheme they pulled the trigger on him.

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Did anybody really think Collins was going to be an immediate contributor?

Take out the word immediate, and my answer is no. Just a terrible draft pick considering our glaring needs elsewhere. It's as if Quinn didn't even look at the roster before drafting.

I should edit in here that I say that as a never wavering BPA guy. Collins met absolutely zero criteria to be a second round pick, unless your name is Al Davis, who simply chose guys because they looked good standing around and ran fast.

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"Although Dimitroff can pound his chest a little for the drafting of Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Desmond Trufant, he also might want to cover his head about the selections of Peria Jerry, Peter Konz, and Dezmen Southward, as well as having an entire 2012 draft class that is not currently on any NFL 53-man roster."

This is half baked anayslis. How about a little chest pounding for Jake Mathews, Devonte Freeman, Ryan Shraeder, Robert Alford, Ricardo Allen and several other players who have been contributing not to mention this years crop of players like Grady Jarett, Vic Beasley etc?

Yes well like a lot round here they only want to see the splash picks and splash fails when.

Sensationalism that's what I'd call it.

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"Although Dimitroff can pound his chest a little for the drafting of Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Desmond Trufant, he also might want to cover his head about the selections of Peria Jerry, Peter Konz, and Dezmen Southward, as well as having an entire 2012 draft class that is not currently on any NFL 53-man roster."

This is half baked anayslis. How about a little chest pounding for Jake Mathews, Devonte Freeman, Ryan Shraeder, Robert Alford, Ricardo Allen, Demarco, Bosher and several other players who have been contributing not to mention this years crop of players like Grady Jarett, Vic Beasley etc?

He was actually being generous. He only mentioned three failures, when the list could easily be much longer.

Much, much longer.

I should also add "contributors" is misleading. When the cumulative effect of drafting poorly, and failing in the FA market degrades the talent level severely, young players contribute by default, not because they are excellent players.

That's not to say we haven't gotten a few good prospects recently, but those are, by far, the exception, not the rule around here. That's on Blank and his cronies in the front office.

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He was actually being generous. He only mentioned three failures, when the list could easily be much longer.

Much, much longer.

I should also add "contributors" is misleading. When the cumulative effect of drafting poorly, and failing in the FA market degrades the talent level severely, young players contribute by default, not because they are excellent players.

That's not to say we haven't gotten a few good prospects recently, but those are, by far, the exception, not the rule around here. That's on Blank and his cronies in the front office.

Good post. McClure was definitely being generous. As far as our vaunted 2015 draft class goes - it may end up being great but when you look at what they actually did their rookie years - it was rather pitiful.

The 2015 free agents were atrocious. The Levitre signing looked worse as the season went on.

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Good post. McClure was definitely being generous. As far as our vaunted 2015 draft class goes - it may end up being great but when you look at what they actually did their rookie years - it was rather pitiful.

The 2015 free agents were atrocious. The Levitre signing looked worse as the season went on.

True. That Brooks Reed signing was the result of an aneurysm or stroke by whomever made the decision.

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Take out the word immediate, and my answer is no. Just a terrible draft pick considering our glaring needs elsewhere. It's as if Quinn didn't even look at the roster before drafting.

I should edit in here that I say that as a never wavering BPA guy. Collins met absolutely zero criteria to be a second round pick, unless your name is Al Davis, who simply chose guys because they looked good standing around and ran fast.

Exactly!!

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"Although Dimitroff can pound his chest a little for the drafting of Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, and Desmond Trufant, he also might want to cover his head about the selections of Peria Jerry, Peter Konz, and Dezmen Southward, as well as having an entire 2012 draft class that is not currently on any NFL 53-man roster."

This is half baked anayslis. How about a little chest pounding for Jake Mathews, Devonte Freeman, Ryan Shraeder, Robert Alford, Ricardo Allen, Hageman, Demarco, Bosher and several other players who have been contributing not to mention this years crop of players like Grady Jarett, Vic Beasley etc?

You realize most of these guys are VERY AVERAGE don't you? Alford? Ricardo Allen? Wait did you name the punter and a fullback too? Hageman has done absolutely nothing and Vic Beasley is a 4 sack rookie that lopes around the field half the time and did ANYTHING but have a stellar rookie season.

I detest your constant nut-hugger posts because you are a joke...so much so that another forum actually calls any "homer" a Gazoo...really quite sad.

How about some real football and realize when your team sucks the last thing people want to read is your b#llsh!t blowing sunshine up their a$$es.

Edited by Keith 3:16
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Good post. McClure was definitely being generous. As far as our vaunted 2015 draft class goes - it may end up being great but when you look at what they actually did their rookie years - it was rather pitiful.

The 2015 free agents were atrocious. The Levitre signing looked worse as the season went on.

Amen...reality here.

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He was actually being generous. He only mentioned three failures, when the list could easily be much longer.

Much, much longer.

I should also add "contributors" is misleading. When the cumulative effect of drafting poorly, and failing in the FA market degrades the talent level severely, young players contribute by default, not because they are excellent players.

That's not to say we haven't gotten a few good prospects recently, but those are, by far, the exception, not the rule around here. That's on Blank and his cronies in the front office.

No doubt.

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You realize most of these guys are VERY AVERAGE don't you? Alford? Ricardo Allen? Wait did you name the punter and a fullback too? Hageman has done absolutely nothing and Vic Beasley is a 4 sack rookie that lopes around the field half the time and did ANYTHING but have a stellar rookie season.

I detest your constant nut-hugger posts because you are a joke...so much so that another forum actually calls any "homer" a Gazoo...really quite sad.

How about some real football and realize when your team sucks the last thing people want to read is your b#llsh!t blowing sunshine up their a$$es.

It's maddening how much some defend this FO.

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You realize most of these guys are VERY AVERAGE don't you? Alford? Ricardo Allen? Wait did you name the punter and a fullback too? Hageman has done absolutely nothing and Vic Beasley is a 4 sack rookie that lopes around the field half the time and did ANYTHING but have a stellar rookie season.

I detest your constant nut-hugger posts because you are a joke...so much so that another forum actually calls any "homer" a Gazoo...really quite sad.

How about some real football and realize when your team sucks the last thing people want to read is your b#llsh!t blowing sunshine up their a$$es.

it's just a game. Simmer down
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