Falcons RB Devonta Freeman Says He Has No Intentions of Holding Out in 2017

The good news for Falcons fans is it looks like things will be just fine when it comes to Devonta Freeman coming to camp and not holding out.

Freeman gave a quote to ESPN’s Josina Anderson that seems to state that he’ll be more than happy to come to camp and eventually see where things line up for his future.

Falcons RB Devonta Freeman to me on why he doesn’t feel the need to hold out: “Me and my team, we already said what we expected and wanted so there is no need for me to sit around here saying ‘why my contract not done?’ ‘Why is this, and why is that?’ I don’t have to do that. I don’t have those problems because realistically I am under contract already. I have to play my fourth season, so it’s no big deal.”

Freeman added: “I’m a firm believer in God. I believe everything that is going to happen will happen at the right time. Sure I can be over-concerned and be like I am a running back and my NFL lifespan is already short ..especially in a sport where anything can happen. But, I feel like when you worry about that stuff, that is when you are more likely to have an injury.”

Devonta Freeman Says He Wants to Be ‘Disrespectful’ When it Comes to Running in 2017

Falcons running back Devonta Freeman wants to establish himself as less of a defender-friendly running back in 2017, Conor Orr of NFL.com reports.

“Little things like breaking arm tackles,” Freeman told reporters Tuesday when talking about what he needs to improve on. “Running through — I feel like I could get better helping our offensive linemen out. They bust their butts. They don’t get to rotate. The only time they get a break is if we score a touchdown and the defense goes on the field.

“But if we have an 18-play drive, they’re on the field the whole game. Helping those guys out by giving them a blow by breaking a big tackle – last year I left some runs out there. Open field, continue to make guys miss. Punishing guys.

“I just want to be real disrespectful this year when it comes to football.”

Sports Illustrated Likes Overall What the Falcons Did in the 2017 NFL Draft

While it could take years for the Falcons and the rest of the NFL to be able to give a grade to the teams’ draft class this year, it’s never early to start throwing out how teams did last week in the annual picking of players.

Chris Burke of SI has thrown out his grades – and he has the following to say about how he felt the Falcons did last week.

The Falcons traded up in Round 1 to nab edge defender Takk McKinley, shipping picks 31, 95 and 249 to Seattle for the 26th spot. They then traded down later to recoup some capital, sending No. 63 to Buffalo for Nos. 75, 149 and 156. McKinley, obviously, is the headliner—he’s working back from shoulder surgery, but his upside opposite Vic Beasley in that front seven intrigued the Falcons enough to make that move for him. Atlanta then added three quality prospects with the picks from Buffalo: LB Duke Riley, CB Damontae Kazee and RB Brian Hill. Both Riley and Kazee are athletic playmakers; none of those guys has a clear path to playing time in 2017. Round 4 guard Sean Harlow should compete to take over the starting job left vacant by Chris Chester’s retirement. GRADE B

A Rundown of All the Atlanta Falcons 2017 NFL Draft Picks

Sports Illustrated has a complete rundown of all of the Falcons 2017 Draft Picks and some commentary as well.

Round 1, Pick 26 (No. 26 overall) (From Seahawks)

Takkarist McKinley, DE, UCLA: The defending NFC champions only had six picks to begin with in this draft. They just gave up two of them (95 and 249) to move up five spots for McKinley. That’s the type of risk a team can take when it feels like it’s one guy away from a championship—the Falcons obviously were about as close as it gets to reaching the mountaintop last season. McKinley’s status for the start of 2017 is in doubt because of his post-combine shoulder surgery, but he should make an impact opposite Vic Beasley once he does get on the field. He thrived last season after UCLA transitioned from a 3-4 to a 4-3.? GRADE: B+

Round 3 Pick 11 (No. 75)

Duke Riley, LB, LSU: The Deion Jones pick last year worked out like gangbusters, so the Falcons went back to the well to pick up Jones’s former teammate—a player not entirely dissimilar from Jones himself. Nothing wrong with adding depth at linebacker, but Atlanta had much more of a hole at guard. GRADE: B

Round 4, Pick 30 (No. 136): Sean Harlow, G, Oregon State

Round 5, Pick 5 (No. 149) Damontae Kazee, CB, San Diego State

Round 5, Pick 12 (No. 156) Brian Hill, RB, Wyoming

Round 5, Pick 31 (No. 174) Eric Saubert, TE, Drake University

A Look at the 2017 Falcons Schedule with a Glance at the Good and the Bad

The 2017 NFL Schedule is out, and here’s a look at the Falcons slate for the upcoming season, with the home games in bold:

Sep. 10 at Chicago Bears 1:00 PM

Sep. 17 Green Bay Packers 8:30 PM

Sep. 24 at Detroit Lions 1:00 PM

Oct. 1 Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM

Oct. 8 BYE

Oct. 15 Miami Dolphins 1:00 PM

Oct. 22 at New England Patriots * 8:30 PM

Oct. 29 at New York Jets 1:00 PM

Nov. 5 at Carolina Panthers 1:00 PM

Nov. 12 Dallas Cowboys 4:25 PM

Nov. 20 at Seattle Seahawks (Mon) 8:30 PM

Nov. 26 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1:00 PM

Dec. 3 Minnesota Vikings 1:00 PM

Dec. 7 New Orleans Saints (Thu) 8:25 PM

Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Mon) 8:30 PM

Dec. 24 at New Orleans Saints 1:00 PM

Dec. 31 Carolina Panthers 1:00 PM

What’s Good about this Schedule: The Falcons should be able to get on track with three home games to end November and start December, from the 26th to the 7th with matchups with the Bucs, Vikings and a Thursday game vs the Saints.

What’s Bad about this Schedule: Three road games in a row will be taxing starting on October 22nd through November 5th, and two of the games are against tough opponents – that being the Pats and Panthers.

Jacob Tamme Would Like to Stay with the Falcons; But May Leave for the Niners

Jacob Tamme could be a factor in the Falcons’ future under new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Or Tamme could end up helping his old coordinator establish the offense in new surroundings, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.

Tamme, a veteran tight end who turns 32 next month, is one of 17 Falcons set to become unrestricted free agents when the new league year begins March 9. He was an integral part of the NFL’s top-scoring offense until he suffered a season-ending right shoulder injury against Green Bay in Week 8 of the regular season.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff said the Falcons’ primary objective is locking up their own players coming off a Super Bowl run. Where Tamme stands in the pecking order remains unclear, but he wants to return.

“I love being a Falcon, love my teammates, love what we have going on here in this organization,” Tamme said. “I’m interested to see what the future holds.”

Tamme, coming off a two-year contract with the Falcons that had a base value of $2.9 million, didn’t want to speculate about other options, but multiple sources indicated San Francisco is a strong possibility if Tamme doesn’t re-sign with the Falcons. The 49ers are now coached by former Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. There’s little doubt Shanahan would love to have a cerebral player such as Tamme on board to help implement his offense, although the 49ers just re-signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension in December.

Tamme was the Falcons’ leading receiver after the first three games of 2016 with 14 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. Then, in a 33-32 victory over Green Bay on Oct. 30, he injured the AC joint in his right shoulder, which resulted in season-ending surgery. Tamme said he was told the recovery process would take to five to six months, and it’s been three so far.

“I’m rocking and rolling with rehab and it’s going great,” he said. “I feel like I could play in a month. … Just been focused on the day to day.”

WR Taylor Gabriel Wants to Stay a Falcon for Life

Taylor Gabriel wants to continue his career with the Falcons. The feeling from the team is mutual, Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com reports.

The wide receiver is a restricted free agent, meaning the Falcons have the upper hand with him even if another team has the intent to sign him to an offer sheet. However, it seems unlikely to reach that point, considering the Falcons can decide to place a higher tender on Gabriel, which would discourage another team from giving up a first- or second-round pick along with awarding Gabriel a new contract.

The Falcons also have the option to extend Gabriel’s current contract up until it expires on March 9, but their current $926,540 salary-cap figure, according to NFLPA calculations, would make doing so unlikely.

“Of course, I want to be a Falcon forever,” Gabriel said. “Just the camaraderie and the group, from [coach] Dan Quinn to the owner [Arthur Blank]. And everyone has bought into what we have here. Yes, I want to be a Falcon forever.”

General manager Thomas Dimitroff said last week while discussing cornerback Desmond Trufant’s contract status that the focus heading into free agency is re-signing the team’s own players. He included Gabriel in the group despite Gabriel’s restricted status. The Falcons are expected to have between $26 million-$29 million in cap space once the new league year starts (March 9, 4 p.m. ET), based on a projected salary cap between $166 million-$168 million.

“It’s going to be positive for him,” Dimitroff said of Gabriel. “Yes, we want him back as well.”

Falcons Considering Making Marquand Manuel New Defensive Coordinator

The Falcons are strongly considering secondary coach Marquand Manuel to become their next defensive coordinator, sources told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com on Wednesday.

The Falcons confirmed on Wednesday that they would not retain defensive coordinator Richard Smith or defensive line coach Bryan Cox. The team said Smith could return in an advisory role but that he’s exploring other options.

Sources said that Falcons coach Dan Quinn started taking more control of the defensive playcalling during the season, and the Falcons showed improvement late in the season and into the playoffs, but still had some hiccups.

Quinn has praised the 37-year-old Manuel, who played eight seasons at strong safety, for his hands-on approach in developing the secondary. Although Manuel has never held the position of coordinator, he did interview to become the defensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars last January.

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