By Rob Hamilton / 92-9 The Game / CBS Sports Atlanta
As free agency began around 4:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 many Falcons fans were hoping and praying for some big moves.
Some of the announcements were anticlimactic like the release of Tony Gonzalez. Other announcements saw many of the holes on the team filled with quality players.
Below are a series of press releases from the Falcons throughout the day describing the move they made and why as well as the particulars on they player they signed or released.
All press releases below courtesy of Matt Haley, Football Communications Coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.
5:32 p.m. – March 11th, 2014
ATLANTA FALCONS RELEASE TE TONY GONZALEZ
Flowery Branch, GA – The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have released tight end Tony Gonzalez.
“We would like to begin by thanking Tony for his contributions to our organization, community and fan base over the last five seasons,” Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “There is no doubt that he is the best tight end to ever play the game and will have a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tony was the consummate professional that led by example. He was one of the hardest working players I have ever been around and has left a lasting impact on this team.”
“This was a decision we had to make with the start of the new League year as we begin retooling our roster for 2014. On behalf of the entire Falcons organization, we wish Tony all the best in his television career and thank him for everything he did for this franchise.”
Gonzalez, 6‐5, 247 pounds, was originally selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round (13th overall) of the 1997 NFL Draft. He was traded to the Falcons in exchange for Atlanta’s second round selection in the 2010 NFL Draft on April 23, 2009. A 14-time Pro Bowler, Gonzalez owns virtually every NFL record at the tight end position. He is just the fifth player in NFL history to record 15,000 career receiving yards (15,071) and has more career receptions (1,321), receiving yards (15,071), touchdown catches (111), 100-yard games (31), Pro Bowl appearances (14) and 1,000-yard seasons (four) than any other tight end in NFL history. A future Hall of Famer, Gonzalez ranks second in League annals in receptions, fifth in receiving yards, and sixth in touchdown receptions.
In five seasons with the Falcons, Gonzalez compiled 409 receptions, 4,187 yards, and 35 touchdowns. He made a lasting impact on the club as he ranks fourth in franchise history in receptions, eighth in receiving yards, and is tied for ﬁfth in touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl for the 14th time in his career and the fourth time in his five seasons with the Falcons in 2013 after catching a team-high 79 passes for 803 yards with eight touchdowns. In 2012, he set a franchise record among tight ends with 93 receptions and 930 receiving yards en route to his sixth career first-team All-Pro selection.
Gonzalez spent the first 12 years of his NFL career in Kansas City where he recorded 916 receptions, 10,940 yards, and 76 touchdowns. He earned 10 Pro Bowl berths as a Chief and was selected as a first-team All Pro by the Associated Press five times during that span. His 76 touchdowns with Kansas City are second in team history trailing only running back Priest Holmes (83).
5:08 p.m. – March 11th, 2014
FALCONS RELEASE S THOMAS DECOUD
Flowery Branch, Ga. – The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have released safety Thomas DeCoud.
DeCoud, 6-2, 193 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the third round (98th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft out of California. He played in 89 games, including 78 starts during his six seasons in Atlanta while totaling 544 tackles (339 solo), 14 interceptions, three sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 27 passes defensed.
4:49 p.m. – March 11th, 2014
FALCONS AGREE TO TERMS WITH G JON ASAMOAH, DE TYSON JACKSON
AND DT PAUL SOLIAI
Flowery Branch, GA – The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have agreed to terms with guard Jon Asamoah (pronounced AH-suh-MO-uh), defensive end Tyson Jackson, and defensive tackle Paul Soliai (pronounced SO-lee-i).
“We were focused on adding pieces along our offensive and defensive lines and I feel we were able to accomplish that today,” stated Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “We believe that Paul and Tyson will add stoutness and grittiness to our defensive front and will help in the run game. Jon is a solid offensive lineman that has started 41 games during his four-year career that will bring some ruggedness to our offensive front.”
Asamoah, 6-4, 305 pounds, was originally selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the third round (68th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Illinois. In four seasons with the Chiefs, he appeared in 60 games with 41 starts at right guard. Asamoah appeared in 13 games in 2013 helping the Chiefs average 337.3 yards per game, including 128.5 yards per game on the ground which was the 10th best mark in the NFL last season. Since becoming a starter in 2011, Asamoah helped anchor an offensive line that averaged 322.4 total yards per game and 132.2 rush yards per game which ranked second in the AFC during that span.
A Park Forest, IL native, Asamoah played in 42 games, including 37 consecutive starts at Illinois. He earned second-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior and was selected to the National Football Foundation’s 16-man Scholar-Athlete team. Asamoah was awarded the 2010 Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor for his proficiency as both a scholar and as an athlete. He garnered all-state and all-area honors by the Chicago Sun-Times and was a two-time first-team all-conference selection at Rich East High School.
Jackson, 6-4, 296 pounds, was originally selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round (third overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft out of Louisiana State University. He has appeared in 74 games with 55 starts and tallied 190 tackles (138 solo), nine sacks, 12 passes defensed, along with 21 quarterback pressures in his five-year NFL career.
In 2013, Jackson helped anchor one of the top scoring defenses in the NFL as the Chiefs allowed just 19.1 points per game. Kansas City ranked tied for fifth in the NFL and tied for the AFC lead in scoring defense while finishing the season tied for sixth with 47 sacks. Last season, Jackson tallied 33 tackles (24 solo) with a career-high four sacks, three passes defensed, and three quarterback pressures.
A native of Edgard, La., Jackson played in 53 games with 39 starts at defensive end for the Tigers. He produced 122 tackles (55 solo), 27.0 tackles for loss, 18.5 sacks, 33 quarterback pressures, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles, and 18 passes defensed. Jackson earned second-team All-SEC honors as a senior in 2008 and helped lead the Tigers to their second BCS National Championship as a junior in 2007. He attended West St. John High School where he was the Class 2A Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Rams to a state title during his senior season.
“We are pleased to add Paul, Tyson and Jon to our roster,” Falcons head coach Mike Smith said. “Paul has played for Coach Nolan in Miami and is familiar with our scheme, and Tyson is a good football player that will fit with what we want to do defensively as well. Jon is a physical, experienced offensive lineman that will add a veteran presence to our offensive line.”
Soliai, 6-4, 345 pounds, was originally selected by the Miami Dolphins in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Utah. In seven seasons with the Dolphins, he appeared in 99 games with 62 starts while totaling 160 tackles (117 solo) with 4.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and 12 passes defensed. In 2013, Soliai logged 34 tackles (19 solo) with one sack, one forced fumble, and five passes defensed in 15 games.
Soliai played under Falcons Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan for two seasons in Miami (2010-11) when the Dolphins boasted one of the top defensive units in the NFL. In 2011, Soliai earned his first career Pro Bowl selection as part of a defense that ranked third against the run, allowing 95.6 yards per game and 3.7 yards per carry. He recorded 27 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for eight yards in losses and two passes defensed that season. In his first season under Nolan in 2010, Soliai logged a career-best 39 tackles (33 solo), two sacks, two passes defensed, and one fumble recovery. He anchored a Dolphins defense that ranked sixth in yards per game (309.3), seventh against the run (100.1), and eighth in passing defense (209.3).
A native of Pago Pago, American Samoa, Soliai was a two-year letterman and all-conference selection at Utah (2005-06) where he played in 24 games with 12 starts and collected 40 tackles, five tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, four passes defensed, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. Prior to his arrival at Utah, he earned JUCO All-America honors at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College as an offensive guard. Soliai attended Nuuuli Poly-Tech High School where he lettered in football, basketball, soccer, and volleyball.
4:03 p.m. – March 11th, 2014
FALCONS AGREE TO TERMS WITH C/G JOE HAWLEY ON A TWO-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION
Flowery Branch, GA – The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have agreed to terms with C/G Joe Hawley on a two-year contract extension. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Hawley, 6-3, 302 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the fourth round (117th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of UNLV. He has appeared in 53 games with seven starts during his four seasons in Atlanta, including seven starts at center in 2013. Hawley saw his most action in 2011, starting 12 games and helping to block for QB Matt Ryan to throw for a franchise record 4,177 yards.
1:25 p.m. – March 11th, 2014
FALCONS AGREE TO TERMS WITH DT JONATHAN BABINEAUX ON A THREE-YEAR CONTRACT EXTENSION
Flowery Branch, GA – The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have agreed to terms with defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux on a three-year contract extension. The terms of the agreement were not disclosed.
Babineaux, 6-2, 300 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the second round (59th overall) of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Iowa. He has played in 138 career games with 108 starts including all 16 games in each of the last two seasons. In nine seasons with the Falcons, Babineaux has totaled 370 tackles (263 solo), 23.5 sacks, three interceptions, 20 passes defensed, 10 fumble recoveries, and nine forced fumbles. He recorded 49 tackles (37 solo) with one sack, two fumble recoveries, and one forced fumble in 2013.
As more and more signings occur, releases happen or changes are made we’ll be posting them right here on this page as well.