For right tackle Tyson Clabo, the most valued Falcons free agent, it came down to this: Do you want to call livable Atlanta or not-so-livable Buffalo home? Do you want to play for a Super Bowl contender (Falcons) or a team (Bills) hopeless in the short-term? Would you settle for a ton of money from one team (Atlanta) or a ton plus a few more pounds from another (Buffalo)?
Clabo, a smart guy, as most union player reps are, opted for the milder weather. The town where chicken wings is not the favored cuisine. The team that is positioned for a run deep into January. And maybe a slightly smaller treasure chest than he could’ve had.
He agreed to a five-year deal, nearly all of it ($25 million of the 27 mil) guaranteed by the Falcons. Clabo, who has gone from undrated out of college to the Pro Bowl, surely was swayed by a reluctance to uproot his family, which includes two youngsters adopted from his troubled brother.
As a player rep, he was compelled to shop around. Fortunately for the Falcons, only the Bills jumped in to compete with them.
The Falcons also locked up their draft picks, most significantly wide receiver Julio Jones, plus veteran linebacker Mike Peterson. All are eligible to join the rest of the club at Friday’s first training camp practice.
A few familiar faces will be missing — for good. Atlanta cut ties with underwhelming tailback Jerious Norwood, which opens the door for rookie Jacquizz Rodgers, and chose not to compete for punter Michael Koenen, who pried an amazing $19 million out of division rival Tampa Bay.
Let the hitting begin.
THIS JUST IN: Former first-round picks Jamal Anderson and Michael Jenkins were waived before the first practice. Anderson fell short of expectations at defensive end. Julio Jones ostensibly replaces Jenkins, an inconsistent receiver.