FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes Demarcus Ware's thoughts on NFL Total Access about Bennett's fit with the Falcons as well as winners and losers from the franchise tag deadline.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
NFL Network: Why Michael Bennett is a good fit for the Falcons
With the start of free agency just one week away, reports have come out naming the Falcons as one of several teams in talks with the Seahawks about a trade with veteran defensive end Michael Bennett. The connection with Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel is obvious, but Demarcus Ware explained on NFL Total Access why he believes Bennett would be a good fit with the Falcons.
"It makes a lot of sense," Ware said of the potential move. "You can bring leadership to a young team when they already have Dan Quinn there, they've already gotten them to the NFC Championship twice – when they played with them, already. Now I just think if you can get a guy that is versatile, can play defensive end, play tackle -- you have Vic Beasley, you have Grady Jarrett, they also have Takk McKinley -- so you have all those guys that can play, bring them together and they will have that pressure defense they want."
A move for Bennett makes sense for the Falcons, who have already released Derrick Shelby and indicated Dontari Poe could sign somewhere else. With Adrian Clayborn also in line to hit free agency on March 14, the Falcons could use another veteran player to fill that versatile role on the defense.
While a trade would ensure Atlanta gets Barnett, the Falcons may not want to take on his big cap hit, which spikes dramatically in 2019, unless an agreement is made to restructure his deal. Should the Seahawks release Bennett prior to him receiving his active roster bonus, however, the Falcons could sign him as a free agent without worrying about his existing contract.
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ESPN: Winners and losers from the NFL franchise tag deadline
The deadline for NFL teams to apply the franchise tag and transition tag, which keep certain players from hitting free agency, came and went yesterday. There were a few interesting decisions made by teams, and ESPN's Dan Graziano broke down his winners and losers from the franchise tag deadline deals.
Among his winners were players who received the franchise or transition tag like Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller, as well as those who did not receive the tag and are now free to negotiate bigger deals like Rams receiver Sammy Watkins and Seahawks defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. Here is what Graziano had to say about Richardson.
"The Seahawks opted not to franchise Richardson for what would have been $13.939 million, and that could end up looking like a bargain price for him. Having shown an ability to play in a 4-3 front as well as a 3-4, Richardson should have no trouble topping the $12.5 million per year Linval Joseph is getting from Minnesota. In fact, there was talk at the combine that Richardson's price might come in closer to the $16.1 million per year that Kawann Short is getting from the Panthers."
As for the losers, has one player and three teams. His one player? Le'Veon Bell, who had the franchise tag slapped on him for the second year in a row. After sitting offseason workouts last year and making it known he wants a long-term deal, Bell has not hidden his displeasure with the Steelers' decision.
The teams listed among Graziano's losers are the Redskins, Rams and the Steelers.
"That's right. There are no winners in the Steelers-Bell situation," Graziano said of the Steelers' inclusion. "Pittsburgh faces another offseason through which Bell is sure to hold out, and it's possible that he could even sit out a regular-season game or two, as Seattle's Kam Chancellor did a couple of years ago."
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