10 Atlanta Falcons Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014
The Atlanta Falcons have some tough roster decisions coming up this offseason. Some guys will be on the proverbial roster bubble for their poor performance in 2013 or for their contract situation, making it easier for the Falcons to cut them than it would be to keep them.
Competition will be key for the Falcons to have a successful 2014 season. However, some of these guys won't even make it to training camp, while others should be given one final shot in camp to earn their roster spot.
Ten names stand out more than the rest as truly fringe roster players. Follow along as we explore who is on the fringe of the Falcons roster for 2014.
QB Dominique Davis
Dominique Davis has been the Falcons' primary backup quarterback the past two seasons. As an undrafted free agent from East Carolina, he's outperformed what anyone thought he was going to be able to do. Unfortunately, in his one regular-season opportunity so far, he's been injured.
Davis has shown that he can light it up in the preseason. However, if the Falcons can bring in a talented quarterback to compete with Davis and 2013 seventh-round pick Sean Renfree, Davis could be out of a job in training camp.
2013 Stats: 1 Game Played, 5-of-7 passing (71.4 percent), 34 Yards
Verdict: Stays until training camp at a minimum
Davis has earned the right to fight for his job in 2014. If he doesn't show that he can be a solid backup for the Falcons, then they need to cut ties after training camp.
RB Josh Vaughan
While Steven Jackson, Jason Snelling, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith all have brought something to the Falcons in 2013, Josh Vaughan has contributed essentially nothing to the Falcons. They could replace him easily with an undrafted free-agent running back signing with more natural talent.
The only thing that could possibly save Vaughan's job is his veteran minimum contract. However, he's going to have to show that he's more than just a benchwarmer who isn't even going to be active most of the season if he wants to keep his job.
2013 Stats: 6 Games Played, 1 Carry, 1 Yard
Verdict: Stays until training camp to compete
He gets his shot. But if he doesn't show that he can be a contributor on either offense or on special teams, the Falcons should just cut their losses.
FB Patrick DiMarco
Patrick DiMarco is reason No. 1,124,634,364 why drafting a fullback isn't the best course of action. Finding one off the street to handle the approximately 200 snaps that the Falcons used a fullback in 2013 shouldn't be too hard to do.
He's been very good at his job this season, earning a plus-2.4 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus. In addition to his blocking abilities, DiMarco's prowess as a short-level outlet has been solid as well.
On top of that, DiMarco has been successful on special teams.
2013 Stats: 14 Games Played, 8 Catches, 49 Yards, 1 Kick Return, 21 Yards, 1 Tackle
Verdict: Earns a roster spot even if he loses the starting job.
DiMarco has shown that he's worthy of a roster spot. Even if he loses the starting role to 2012 fifth-round pick Bradie Ewing, he can still contribute more to the roster every week than Josh Vaughan has.
OL Garrett Reynolds
After starting the season as the starting right guard, Garrett Reynolds was benched for Peter Konz and then later Harland Gunn. Reynolds just isn't built to be a starting right guard in the NFL. However, Reynolds has shown that he can provide solid depth at both guard spots and at right tackle.
On top of that, he was used as a sixth offensive lineman after he got benched. In that role, he looked very competent, and it could be his best role moving forward. His solid blocking there as well as on special teams makes him at least worthy of a camp spot.
2013 Stats: 15 Games played, 10 Games Started, 696 Snaps Played, 4 Sacks Allowed, 3 QB Hits Allowed, 22 QB Hurries Allowed
Verdict: Stays for training camp battles
Reynolds should stay on the roster until training camp so that he can battle for the reserve role at both guard spots. If he earns the job, let him stay on the roster as depth.
DE Cliff Matthews
Cliff Matthews was a bit of a forgotten man this season with the additions of Osi Umenyiora, Malliciah Goodman and Stansly Maponga. The former seventh-round pick could see even more turnover at defensive end in the coming season that would make him expendable as even a backup.
However, he has shown that by playing both defensive end and defensive tackle the past three seasons he is still worthy of a shot in training camp. Matthews may have to convert to defensive tackle full time in order to earn a final roster spot, though.
2013 Stats: 15 Games Played, 13 Tackles, 6 QB Hurries
Verdict: Stays until training-camp battles
Matthews should get a shot to re-earn his job in training camp. He should be able to show that he's at least worthy of keeping around until final cuts.
DE Osi Umenyiora
Osi Umenyiora was the Falcons' leading pass-rusher in the 2013 season. While getting rid of the best pass-rusher from a bad pass rush seems like it would be a bad idea, Atlanta could easily be considering it based on Umenyiora's production versus his contract.
Umenyiora's cap hit is $4.75 million in 2014, but if he's released before his $1 million roster bonus is due, the Falcons could save $3.5 million in cap space. Considering Umenyiora isn't anything more than a rotational pass-rusher at this point in his career, it wouldn't be shocking to see him cut.
2013 Stats: 16 Games Played, 47 Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss, 7.5 Sacks, 4 QB Hits, 29 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 3 Fumbles Forced, 3 Pass Deflections, 1 Defensive Touchdown
Verdict: Cut as soon as possible
Umenyiora was an excellent pickup for what the Falcons paid him this past season based on what his production was. However, he makes too much for Atlanta to keep in 2014.
DT Travian Robertson
Travian Robertson has given the Falcons more than what they could have expected based on what a late-seventh-round pick normally contributes by even making the roster two straight years. However, he has to show that he can earn a spot in his third year.
Robertson barely played in 2013 until an injury to Corey Peters at the end of the season let him be the third defensive tackle in rotation. At this point, he isn't going to cost much to keep, but whether he is even worth keeping on the roster will be questioned until training camp cuts.
2013 Stats: 5 Games Played, 2 Tackles, 1 QB Hurry
Verdict: Stays for competition in training camp
Robertson gets one more shot to show that he's worth a roster spot. If he can't earn it, then he's not too expensive to cut, as he's on his rookie contract.
LB Stephen Nicholas
Stephen Nicholas' play has really fallen off over the past two seasons. While he has shown that he can contribute in a limited role, the Falcons linebacker hasn't shown that he's worthy of the $4 million cap hit in 2014 nor the $3 million salary he should get paid.
The Falcons could save $2 million by cutting the wily veteran, and if they decide to cut him after June 1, they can save $3 million. For a mediocre linebacker who got beat out by Joplo Bartu and Kroy Biermann for his starting role, he hasn't shown he's worth the money.
2013 Stats: 14 Games Played, 35 Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 1 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
Whether it's before or after June 1 doesn't really matter, honestly. The Falcons should cut him and take the savings from his cut to spend on a big-name free-agent pass-rusher.
CB Asante Samuel
Asante Samuel was supposed to be a key member of the Falcons defense in 2013. However, he couldn't stay healthy throughout the year and got benched toward the end of the season in favor of second-round rookie Robert Alford.
The man who was supposed to be the Falcons' biggest playmaker didn't make many plays and got burned too many times in coverage. He has a $6.0 million cap hit in 2014, but the Falcons would save $5.25 million by cutting him.
2013 Stats: 11 Games Played, 30 Tackles, 1 QB Hurries, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 3 Pass Deflections
Take the money that Samuel would have taken up and spend it on some talented defensive linemen to improve the pass rush to help Alford and Desmond Trufant not have to cover their receivers all day.
S Thomas DeCoud
Thomas DeCoud has been two completely different safeties the past two seasons. In 2012, he was a ball hawk who couldn't defend the run and missed way too many tackles. In 2013, he was a solid run defender who just couldn't cover even the worst of receivers.
Atlanta needs to have him be a mix of the two players. If he can be a guy who gets six interceptions, doesn't allow but two touchdowns and can be a solid tackler in the running game with at least mid-level angles against the run, then he should stay. Otherwise, this will be his last year in a Falcons uniform.
2013 Stats: 15 Games Played, 65 Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss, 1 QB Hurries, 1 Fumbles Recovered, 2 Pass Deflections
Verdict: Keep if he restructures, cut if he doesn't
If DeCoud will take a restructure of his contract, then keep him for a year and hope he shows the best of his 2012 form and the best of his 2013 form. Otherwise, cut him.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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