NFC South: Brett Romberg

Falcons: First look at free agency

January, 31, 2012
Since the NFC South doesn’t have a team in the Super Bowl, let’s start looking ahead to the 2012 offseason.

We’ll start by taking a look at each team and its potential free agents. We’ll start with the Atlanta Falcons. We’ll list all of their potential free agents. Each one listed is a potential unrestricted free agent, unless he’s noted as a restricted or exclusive-rights free agent. After I list the free agents, I’ll summarize what could be the most important moves as teams re-sign players between now and the start of free agency in mid-March.

Here are Atlanta’s potential free agents: Defensive end John Abraham, defensive end Kroy Biermann, offensive lineman Kirk Chambers, safety Thomas DeCoud, receiver Harry Douglas, cornerback Brent Grimes, cornerback Kelvin Hayden, tight end Reggie Kelly, linebacker Curtis Lofton, center Todd McClure, linebacker Mike Peterson, offensive lineman Brett Romberg, safety James Sanders, running back Jason Snelling, receiver Eric Weems, long-snapper Joe Zelenka, tight end Michael Palmer (exclusive rights), running back Antone Smith (exclusive rights) and defensive tackle Vance Walker (restricted).

Lofton and Grimes are the most significant names on that list. They’re key defensive starters, and they’re in their prime. Keeping Lofton, the quarterback of the defense, might be the top priority. There’s little doubt the Falcons want Grimes back. He’s developed into a very good cornerback, despite the fact that he’s undersized. But Grimes could get big money elsewhere. The Falcons already have a lot invested in cornerback Dunta Robinson, and might not be able to pay huge contracts to two cornerbacks.

Abraham, McClure and Peterson are nearing the end of their careers. Any of them could decide to retire. The Falcons also could decide to bring back any of them as a role player. Abraham still was the team’s best pass-rusher in 2011.

It’s likely the Falcons will have some interest in keeping Biermann, DeCoud, Douglas and Snelling. They’re still young, but they could get better offers elsewhere. Hayden and Sanders each are veterans that could test the market, but eventually return to give the Falcons depth.

Brent Grimes out for Falcons

January, 8, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Atlanta cornerback Brent Grimes will miss Sunday’s playoff game with the New York Giants due to a knee injury.

Grimes had been listed as questionable and practiced on a limited basis. But the team elected to make him inactive Sunday morning.

Dominique Franks will start in Grimes’ place and Christopher Owens will be the third cornerback.

Starting linebacker Stephen Nicholas also will miss the game. That was expected because Nicholas was listed as doubtful with a toe injury and did not practice at all during the week. Spencer Adkins will start in his place.

The other inactives for the Falcons are quarterback John Parker Wilson, center Brett Romberg, offensive lineman Kirk Chambers, receiver Kerry Meier and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

Grimes, Nicholas out for Falcons

January, 1, 2012
ATLANTA -- The Falcons will be without injured cornerback Brent Grimes (knee) and linebacker Stephen Nicholas (toe) in Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.

Both players have been declared inactive. Dominique Franks is expected to start in Grimes’ place. Spencer Adkins likely will start in Nicholas’ spot.

The other inactives for the Falcons are quarterback John Parker Wilson, center Brett Romberg, offensive lineman Kirk Chambers, receiver Kerry Meier and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

Nicholas, Hayden out for Falcons

December, 26, 2011
NEW ORLEANS — No big surprise here, but the Atlanta Falcons will be without two injured defenders in their “Monday Night Football’’ game with the New Orleans Saints.

Linebacker Stephen Nicholas (groin) and nickel back Kelvin Hayden have been declared inactive. Veteran Mike Peterson likely will start in Nicholas’ place. Dominique Franks likely will be Atlanta’s nickel back.

The other inactives for the Falcons are quarterback John Parker Wilson, center Brett Romberg, tackle Kirk Chambers, receiver Kerry Meier and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

I’ll be back with the inactives for the Saints as soon as I get them.

NFC South players not signed for 2012

December, 22, 2011
A lot can change between now and the start of free agency and I sure don’t see any way the New Orleans Saints let quarterback/King Drew Brees walk away. I also think there’s a pretty good chance tight end Tony Gonzalez can return to the Atlanta Falcons if he chooses. Same for cornerback Ronde Barber with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and maybe even Jeremy Shockey with the Carolina Panthers.

But all we know about those guys at the moment is they’re not under contract for 2012. We’ll do much more on free agency as it gets closer but I’ve got the complete list of every NFC South player presently not under contract for 2012.

I’ll list them by team here and we’ll only go with the guys who have at least four years of service and can become unrestricted free agents. We’ll deal with restricted and exclusive-rights free agents at another time.

Atlanta Falcons: Tony Gonzalez, tight end; Reggie Kelly, tight end; Todd McClure, center; Mike Peterson, linebacker; John Abraham, defensive end; Joe Zelenka, long-snapper; Chris Redman, quarterback; Kirk Chambers, offensive line; Kelvin Hayden, cornerback; Brett Romberg, offensive line; James Sanders, safety; Jason Snelling, running back; Kroy Biermann, defensive end; Thomas DeCoud, safety; Harry Douglas, receiver; Brent Grimes, cornerback; Curtis Lofton, linebacker; Eric Weems, receiver.

Carolina Panthers: Jeremy Shockey, tight end; Reggie Wells, offensive line; Derek Anderson, quarterback; Geoff Hangartner, center/guard; Omar Gaither, linebacker; Cletis Gordon, cornerback; Legedu Naanee, receiver; Antwan Applewhite, linebacker; Mackenzy Beranadeau, offensive line; Dan Connor, linebacker; J.J. Jansen, long-snapper; Jerome Felton, fullback; Jordan Senn, linebacker.

New Orleans Saints: John Kasay, kicker; Drew Brees, quarterback; Shaun Rogers, defensive tackle; John Gilmore, tight end; Aubrayo Franklin, defensive tackle; Marques Colston, receiver; Pat McQuistan, offensive line; Courtney Roby, receiver; Leigh Torrence, cornerback; Jeff Charleston, defensive end; Turk McBride, defensive end; Robert Meachem, receiver; Jo-Lonn Dunbar, linebacker; Carl Nicks, guard; Tracy Porter, cornerback.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ronde Barber, cornerback; Earnest Graham, running back; Sean Jones, safety; Connor Barth, kicker; Geno Hayes, linebacker; Josh Johnson, quarterback; James Lee, offensive line; Corey Lynch, safety; Elbert Mack, cornerback; Frank Okam, defensive tackle; Micheal Spurlock, receiver; Jeremy Zuttah, offensive line.

Grimes, Hayden out for Falcons

December, 15, 2011
ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars just announced their inactives for Thursday night’s game.

The Falcons will be without injured cornerbacks Brent Grimes and Kelvin Hayden. The other inactives are quarterback John Parker Wilson, linebacker Spencer Adkins, center Brett Romberg, offensive lineman Kirk Chambers and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

For the Jaguars, quarterback Dan LeFevour, running back Deji Karim, cornerback Robert McClain, center John Estes, receiver Mike Thomas, receiver Cecil Shorts III and defensive end Matt Roth are inactive.

Falcons sitting three defenders

December, 11, 2011
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Atlanta Falcons will be without three key defensive players Sunday in their game against the Carolina Panthers.

Cornerbacks Brent Grimes (knee) and Kelvin Hayden (toe) are inactive. So is linebacker Stephen Nicholas (quadriceps). Christopher Owens and Dominique Franks will get playing time at cornerback along with Dunta Robinson.

Also inactive for the Falcons are quarterback John Parker Wilson, offensive linemen Brett Romberg and Kirk Chambers and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

Inactives for the Falcons

November, 20, 2011
ATLANTA -- In addition to rookie receiver Julio Jones, who is sitting out with a hamstring injury, the Falcons have announced their other six inactives for Sunday’s game with Tennessee.

They are tackle Sam Baker, safety William Moore, cornerback Darrin Walls, center Brett Romberg, defensive tackle Carlton Powell and defensive end Cliff Matthews.

William Moore out for Falcons

November, 13, 2011
ATLANTA -- Falcons safety William Moore (quadriceps) will not play in Sunday’s game against New Orleans.

James Sanders will start in his place. In addition to Moore, the inactives for the Falcons are defensive back Darrin Walls, linebacker Spencer Adkins, center Brett Romberg, tackle Sam Baker, and defensive linemen Carlton Powell and Cliff Matthews.

Inactives for the Falcons

September, 25, 2011
TAMPA, Fla. – Here are the inactives for the Atlanta Falcons and there’s a bit of a surprise.

Starting linebacker Stephen Nicholas is out with a calf injury. Veteran Mike Peterson likely will take his place. Cornerback Kelvin Hayden, cornerback Darrin Walls, center Brett Romberg, offensive lineman Mike Johnson, defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux and defensive end Cliff Matthews are inactive.

Center Todd McClure is active and expected to start after missing the first two games with a knee injury.

We’ll be back with the inactives for the Bucs in just a few minutes.

Also, a quick weather report. It’s been raining hard in Tampa for the last 30 minutes or so. The University of South Florida played a game here Saturday night, so it could be interesting to see how the field holds up. Also, there's been some lightning in the area. If that continues, a delayed start is possible.

Around the NFC South

September, 13, 2011
Let's take a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South.

Atlanta defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux reportedly has a partially torn MCL. Babineaux suffered the injury in the Chicago game. It’s unclear if Babineaux will miss time, but the Falcons started off the season thin at defensive tackle as Corey Peters sat out the opener with a knee injury.

D. Orlando Ledbetter starts the hype for Sunday night’s showdown between the Falcons and Eagles or, more accurately, between Matt Ryan and Michael Vick. Interestingly enough, the two teams have played the past two seasons, but Ryan (Atlanta’s quarterback of the present) and Vick (Atlanta’s quarterback of the past) haven’t gone head to head in either game. In 2009, Ryan was out with an injury. Last season, Vick was out with an injury.

Carolina coach Ron Rivera said he doesn’t believe the torn Achilles tendon Jon Beason suffered at Arizona was related to recent surgery the linebacker had on his ankle. But you still have to wonder if Beason came back too soon.

The Chicago Bears have won their last four meetings with the New Orleans Saints, but all of those games have been at Soldier Field. This week’s game is in the Superdome. The Bears also have been a thorn in New Orleans’ side when it comes to the playoffs. The Bears eliminated the Saints in the 2006 and 1990 seasons.

John DeShazier writes that the injury to Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning is a reminder of how important Drew Brees is to the Saints.

The Falcons re-signed center Brett Romberg and released center Rob Bruggeman. Romberg now will serve as the backup to Joe Hawley until veteran Todd McClure is ready to return from injury.

Tampa Bay’s Raheem Morris, the only NFC South coach who publicly singles out players when they struggle, pointed to defensive tackles Frank Okam and Roy Miller and linebackers Quincy Black and Geno Hayes as guys who had disappointing outings in the opener.

Atlanta Falcons cutdown analysis

September, 3, 2011
Check here for a complete list of the Atlanta Falcons’ roster moves.

Surprise move: The Falcons waived quarterback John Parker Wilson, meaning they’ll go with only starter Matt Ryan and backup Chris Redman. There’s been talk that more teams will carry only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster because teams don’t have to declare an inactive third quarterback anymore.

Wilson could end up back on the practice squad, but this move shows the Falcons aren’t all that high on him. They might be better off looking for a developmental prospect to put on the practice squad. Ryan’s secure as the starter for a long time, but Redman is nothing more than a career backup. It might be time for the Falcons to start developing a new backup.

No-brainers: At the start of camp, there was some uncertainty that seventh-round draft pick Cliff Matthews would stick because the team was deep at defensive end and there was a lot of uncertainty that undrafted cornerback Darrin Walls would have a shot at a roster spot. Both made it. But those moves don’t really come as surprises because Matthews and Davis were excellent in camp and the preseason. They probably won’t get a lot of playing time right away, but Matthews has the potential to challenge Kroy Biermann and Lawrence Sidbury for a spot in the rotation eventually. Walls might get a shot on special teams right off the bat, but the team must think he has upside as a cornerback. The Falcons still aren’t sure about Chris Owens and Dominique Franks in the long term and that’s probably why the decision was made to keep Walls.

What’s next: The team already reinforced the secondary by signing cornerback Kelvin Hayden and safety James Sanders. There’s really not much more work to be done. Perhaps the most encouraging sign was that the team released center Brett Romberg. That might be a sign that the injury to veteran starter Todd McClure isn’t that serious. The team already has said McClure would miss the season opener, and second-year pro Joe Hawley is expected to start in his place. The Falcons also have Rob Bruggeman as a backup, but they wouldn’t have let Romberg go if McClure’s injury were going to keep him out for a long period.

Falcons make roster moves

September, 3, 2011
The Atlanta Falcons were the first NFC South team to officially announce their roster moves to get down to 53 players.

They released center Brett Romberg and waived safety Rafael Bush, wide receiver Kevin Cone, wide receiver Drew Davis, guard Andrew Jackson, linebacker Robert James, defense end Emmanuel Stephens, tackle Jose Valdez and quarterback John Parker Wilson. The Falcons reached an injury settlement with tight end Ryan Winterswyk.

I’ll be back in a bit with an analysis of Atlanta’s roster.
The Falcons already took a $6.4 million salary-cap hit for Michael Vick in 2009. But there now are reports the team could recoup some of that space.

D. Orlando Ledbetter reports that the situation is under review, according to a league spokesperson, after Vick agreed to a six-year, $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

If the Falcons get some relief, it could come in handy. They currently are less than $1.88 million under the salary cap. That’s the number they were at before signing center Brett Romberg and safety James Sanders. We don't know if the contracts for Romberg and Sanders fall into the top 51 cap figures, which are all that count at the moment. But that's about to change.

Teams are required to get down to 53 players by Saturday afternoon. At that point, all players currently under contract count toward the cap. So do players on injured reserve and any outstanding pro-rated bonus money for players no longer on the roster. Defensive end Chauncey Davis, who has a $3.75 million cap figure, is a candidate to be a salary-cap casualty.

But if the Falcons get some added space from the Vick situation, it would give them additional room to work with if they have injuries and need to sign more players during the season.
With veteran center Todd McClure expected to miss at least the season opener with a knee injury, the Atlanta Falcons just brought in some insurance on the offensive line.

Their plan still is to put second-year pro Joe Hawley in McClure’s place, but they added a backup with some experience. The team has signed center Brett Romberg. If the name sounds familiar to Atlanta fans, it should. Romberg appeared in 10 games for the Falcons in 2009, as a reserve center, guard and special-teams player. Romberg also was with the Falcons in 2008 and has spent six seasons in the NFL, including stints with Jacksonville and St. Louis. He’s appeared in 46 games with 19 starts.

In addition to signing Romberg, the Falcons made several other roster moves to get down to 80 players. They waived receiver Doug Beaumont, cornerback Kirk Belgrave, running back Phillip Sylvester, linebacker LaMarcus Thompson and linebacker Youri Yenga. The team also reached an injury settlement with receiver Tim Buckley.