Welcome to the fifth installment of my weekly "Bird Droppings"...factoids, snippets, and rants from around the Falcons camp and the rest of the NFL. To begin this week's column, I want to send a big thank you and shout-out to my graphic designer, Katie Roberts at Ladybug Graphics. She's the designer for the new Bird Droppings logo, as well as a lot of the artwork on my webpage. Katie does great work, so if you need some graphics work I give her my highest recommendation! Now on to all the news and views that only we would find fit to print.
After weeks and days of lamenting that the Falcons were doing nothing in the way of signing free agents, they finally agreed to terms with DE John Abraham. So, the "improvements" on defense that we heard so much about in January have now officially consisted of re-signing the same guys we had last year, letting our best linebacker go to free agency (doubtful we will sign Curtis Lofton at this point) and handing Lofton's spot over to Lofa Tatupu, who hasn't seen a single down of NFL action in over a year. Didn't Springsteen write a song about the Falcons off-season?..."One Step Up, and Two Steps Back...."
While we are on the subject of Curtis Lofton, this morning a report surfaced on Yardbarker that Lofton had indeed signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (quoting Sports Illustrated as their source). Upon searching, no such report was found on any SI site, and one of my sources at SI confirmed that no deal had been signed, and that talks with Lofton's agent were still "ongoing" (unspoken subtext - nobody that needs this guy can afford him)
Saints quarterback Drew Brees has to be feeling like an appendix patient everytime a new Manning report surfaces. Once the final terms of Manning's deal with the Broncos are announced, I'm sure that Brees will feel as though Peyton has been throwing his "Brees Voodoo Doll" into a bed of porcupines. The last report was Manning getting in the realm of $90 million with about half or more of that being guaranteed money.
Give me my long term deal, Tom Benson...or I'll elbow drop your trophy!
The Dolphins have signed former Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback David Garrard...this is one of those moments when silence speaks volumes.
A lot of folks are concerned about WR/KR Eric Weems departing Atlanta for the balmy climate in Chicago. I'm not included in "a lot of folks". The position of kick returner has essentially lost all of it's impact with the new kickoff placement and rules, and as a punt returner Weems made a lot of questionable decisions. The real question to me is, what does this mean for Devin Hester? Certainly Chicago can't be contemplating letting Hester go. My guess is that Weems will be used as a backup for Hester, a slot WR, and as a gunner on special teams. But hey Bears, if you've grown weary of Hester scoring touchdowns for you, by all means...send him this way.
I really despise that Budweiser has done a mash-up of The Cult and Flo-Rida for one of their commercials. Two artists (and I use that term loosely in the case of Flo-Rida) who should remain mutually exclusive. I need to do an entire column of songs that have been bastardized (yes, that's an official Sports Craze word) by greedy corporations with little regard for the frontal lobes of their potential listeners. (Writers note: Last week in my intro I made a comment about my Black & Decker blender and it's inability to produce different consistencies despite the different speed settings. Within an hour of posting the column I was tweeted by B&D asking me if I needed some help with my blender. Wonder what I'll get from Budweiser this week?)
With Mario Williams basically breaking the Buffalo Bills bank by signing a six-year, $100 million deal, he's shown that free agency is not only a business and about the money...but that his fiancee is the one making the big tackles in that family. You have to think that the Bills front office personnel's smartphones were going berserk with the news that Williams' fiancee was on her way into town. The receptionist probably pulled a Ghostbusters Janine Melnitz..."WE GOT ONE!!!!"
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he doesn't view removal of funds for a College Football Hall of Fame from the proposed state budget as a sign that Georgia's lawmakers are going to be less supportive of a new, publicly financed stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. "I know that the governor is committed to the stadium effort, that the Falcons are committed to it, and my message is real clear," stated Kasim. "We're going to honor our commitment to be completely supportive to building a stadium. And that's where I am". Makes sense Mr. Mayor...after all, who needs more police, firefighters, and city/state employees to make our lives better when we can have a pretty new football stadium for a bunch of guys who combined already have more money than the rest of the entire state? And that's where I am.
Atlanta's braintrust under the golden dome are also convinced that a new stadium will lure a Super Bowl back to Atlanta. Let's see...the NFL was reluctant to bring the Super Bowl back to Atlanta because of the threat of inclement weather in January and February, and other mitigating factors while Atlanta has an INDOOR stadium. So yeah, an outdoor open-air stadium will do lots to change their minds on that one. Good thinking guys!
Falcons WR Roddy White has been spending a lot of time tweeting to fans this week about potentially restructuring his contract and/or taking a pay cut to help free up some cap space for the Falcons, eluding several times that teammate Julio Jones should be the first to take a pay cut, and then perhaps he'd follow suit. That's as ludicrous as Donald Trump telling his his employees that his driver will have to take a pay cut if they want their profit sharing this year.
Look for the NFL to finally hand down the bounty scandal (I refuse to add the "gate" surname to scandals) penalties to the Saints this week. If you are one of the first 5-6 teams on the Saints schedule, consider yourself among the lucky. You'll probably be facing water-boys, trainers, and the nearest Saints fan wearing a Darth Vader costume in the stands.