There is breaking news every few minutes during this ultra short free agency period in the NFL. Teams are popping up on Twitter and in news articles every minute of the hour it seems. Every team that is except maybe the Falcons who continue to conduct their free agency business quietly and methodically flying under the radar.
That’s not to say that they haven’t made some significant moves. Because they have. In fact, some are extremely significant, but they aren’t blasting them out to Twitter or having someone write about every single one like it’s world peace. No, they keep doing their business preparing for their one and only goal this year – a Super Bowl.
The Falcons have released WR Michael Jenkins. While Jenkins played adequately with the Falcons, 41 receptions for 505 yards and 2 TDs in 2010, he was not the breakout star they had hoped for. Now that the team has Julio Jones, Jenkins becomes less of a need. He will certainly find work somewhere else though and can still be productive for many teams.
They also released DE Jamaal Anderson who was an overall 8th pick for the team in 2007 but was by all accounts a complete bust. Anderson managed just 4.5 sacks in his career with the Falcons. He may have a bit of a harder time finding a new team with anemic numbers like that.
The Falcons also released RB Jerious Norwood. He had some explosive performances and a lot of injuries in his time with the team. He missed the majority of the 2010 season with injuries. Norwood might find work elsewhere but as a 2nd or 3rd string running back, most likely 3rd and that’s if he can stay healthy. They also released P Michael Koenen and he has already signed with Tampa Bay, one of the Falcons divisional rivals.
The Falcons signed the player they most wanted to keep in RT Tyson Clabo. The Bills wanted Clabo really badly, but he stayed with the Falcons signing a 5 year, $25 million deal. They were also able to keep LB Mike Peterson and LB Stephen Nicholas. Nicholas agreed to a 5 year, $17.5 million deal. Some are questioning Nicholas’ deal given the presence of Sean Weatherspoon, so why pay Nicholas like a starter?
The Falcons have also signed all 6 of their 2011 draft picks. WR Julio Jones (4 year, $16.2 million), LB Akeem Dent (4 year deal, value not disclosed), RB Jacquizz Rodgers (4 year deal), P Matt Bosher, OG Andrew Jackson, and DE Cliff Mathews. Julio Jones will definitely be a starter this year and will be learning at the knee of Tony Gonzalez. With the release of Koenen, Bosher is sure to see starting time as well. Rodgers may get some play as well with the release of Norwood, but Rogers won’t be a starter most likely.
So, just because you’re not reading about them every 5 seconds or seeing them on ESPN all day (not that you would anyway the Falcons don’t get that kind of media love) doesn’t mean they aren’t out there taking care of their business. The team has one goal this season, a Super Bowl, if flying under the radar gets them there, they are fine with that.