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Broncos 2012 Opponents Progress - NFC South - The Falcons

The Denver Broncos face Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons in a Monday Night duel in Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
The Denver Broncos face Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons in a Monday Night duel in Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Continuing our post-draft review of 2012 Denver Broncos opponents, the second team we’ll look at in the NFC South is the Atlanta Falcons. The Broncos will travel to the Georgia Dome in Week 2 of the season to meet the Falcons on Monday Night. Take a peek at what has been happening in Atlanta during the offseason.

The Falcons finished 2nd in the NFC South with a 10-6 record in 2011. They were one-and-done in the postseason, having lost to the eventual champion New York Giants 2-24 in the NFC Wild Card game.

Franchise Player

CB Brent Grimes signed his tender of $10.281 million on April 24.

Players Lost

Fullback Ovie Mughelli was released outright, Cornerback Kelvin Hayden ran off with the Bears, MLB Curtis Lofton got a big raise to replace suspended Jonathan Vilma on the Saints, Safety James Sanders signed with the Cardinals and Wide Receiver Eric Weems will be catching passes from Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears.

Players Re-signed

The Falcons tendered new contracts to Defensive End John Abraham (3 yrs), Free Safety Thomas DeCoud got $21 Million for 5 years, Defensive End Kroy Biermann ($12M/3 yrs), Wide Receiver Harry Douglas re-upped for 4 years, Tight End Tony Gonzalez got a 1 year deal in what is probably his last hurrah, Center Todd McClure (1 yr), TE Michael Palmer ($540,000/1 yr.), Quarrterback Chris Redman (1 yr), RB Antone Smith (1 yr.), RB Jason Snelling ($4M/3yrs), Defensive Tackle Vance Walker ($1.26M/1 yr) and Long Snapper Joe Zelenka.

Players Acquired
Atlanta didn’t do much in Free Agency, but they will try to replace Curtis Lofton with LB Lofa Tatupu, who received a 2 year, $5.75 Million deal. They picked up Guard Vince Manuwai, who spent the last 8 seasons with the Jaguars and traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for CB Asante Samuel.

Team Needs

Heading into the draft, I see the major needs for the Falcons as Linebacker, Offensive Line (particularly Left Tackle, Right Guard and Tight End) and backup Quarterback.

They need more players who can rush the quarterback or hold their own while dropping into coverage. Tony Gonzalez has signed up for another year and at 36 years old, is going into his 17th campaign. His replacement needs to be found.

A backup Quarterback to upgrade 35 year old Chris Redman should be on the Falcons radar as well as a big Right Guard, since last year's 4th-round pick, Joe Hawley, doesn’t sound like the answer on the right side. He was brutal in the postseason loss, but he'll be better next season.

Draft Picks

Round Pick Player Position Height Weight College
2 55 Peter Konz Center 6-5 315 Wisconsin
3 91 Lamar Holmes Tackle 6-6 333 Southern Miss.
5 157 Bradie Ewing Fullback 6-0 245 Wisconsin
5 164 Jonathan Massaquoi Defensive End 6-2 250 Troy
6 192 Charles Mitchell Strong Safety 5-11 205 Mississippi State
7 249 Travian Robertson Defense Tackle 6-4 303 South Carolina

The Falcons were up against the salary cap after trading for Cornerback Asante Samuel, recently received about $3 million in salary-cap credits from the league from money that former QB Michael Vick owed the team after declaring bankruptcy in wake of going to federal prison on for dogfighting in 2007.

Fullback Ovie Mughelli's $3.7 million cap number was too high for the team to carry in 2012 and he was released May 8.Because of the cap issue, the Falcons ended up selecting Wisconsin Fullback Bradie Ewing in the 5th round of the draft.

CFA Quarterback Dominique Davis (East Carolina), who started his career at Boston College as a redshirt freshman in 2007, will compete for the backup position and could challenge John Parker Wilson for the No. 3 quarterback spot.

Minnesota-Mankato TE Lamark Brown; Cal WR Michael Calvin; Tennessee State LB Rico Council; East Carolina QB Dominique Davis; Montclair State S Chad Faulcon; Kutztown RB Robbie Frey; Pittsburgh LB Max Gruder; Fresno State OT Byrce Harris; Alabama LB Jerrell Harris; Auburn LS Josh Harris; Miami OL Tyler Horn; Lamar WR Marcus Jackson; Kansas State DT Ray Kibble; Toledo G Phillip Manley; South Carolina CB Marty Markett; Central Florida TE Adam Nissley; Wisconsin DE Lewis Nzegwu; Huntingdon WR Cody Pearcy; Miami DT Micanor Regis; Oregon State WR James Rodgers; Northern Illinois LB Pat Schiller; San Jose State CB Peyton Thompson; Clemson P Dawson Zimmerman

The Falcons had a decent offseason considering they were up against the Salary Cap limit and were down two of their top draft picks in lieu of obtaining Wide Receiver Julio Jones in last year’s draft. The question is, have they improved enough to challenge the New Orleans Saints for the NFC South title?

Go Broncos!

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