The ink on the transcript of Cam Newton’s post-Super Bowl media briefing — key word:”brief” — was scarcely dry before the Atlanta Falcons moved to cut safety William Moore and linebacker Justin Durant. The first name was no surprise; the second was, kind of.
Credit where it’s due: William Moore is among Thomas Dimitroff’s non-Round 1 successes. He was the 55th player chosen in the 2009 NFL draft, 31 spots after the Falcons took Peria Jerry, who ranks as Dimitroff’s greatest whiff. the Falcons went hunting replacements for the five defensive starters they’d dumped after going 11-5 in their first year under Dimitroff and Mike Smith but failing to hold Arizona on third-and-16 in a playoff loss.
Hurt for most of his rookie year, Moore was a starter by 2010. He was a big hitter and, being honest, a bit of a dirty Bird. He was fined nearly $100,000 for five illegal hits from 2013 through 2015. He got hurt last season and finished the year on injured reserve. By season’s end, it was believed the Falcons saw Kemal Ishmael as a younger upgrade.
Dan Quinn arrived after working with Kam Chancellor, the best strong safety in the business, in Seattle, and Moore at his absolute best was never Kam Chancellor. Still, he was a six-year starter and a 2012 Pro Bowler. That’s pretty fair value for a Round 2 pick. Dimitroff can and has done much worse.
As for Durant: He was one of the Falcons’ biggest free-agent acquisitions of the last offseason, and he wasn’t terrible. (The Falcons’ linebackers as a unit were, however.) He has been deemed not good enough after one year, which makes you wonder: Whose idea was it to sign him? By then, Quinn was in place and working — so we’re told — in Total Harmony with Dimitroff and Scott Pioli. Questions, then:
Was Durant imposed on Quinn by Dimitroff/Pioli? (If so, Total Harmony might just be overrated.)
Did Quinn ask for Durant? (If so, he mightn’t be much of a personnel judge, which would be unfortunate, seeing as how he holds the keys to the kingdom.)
Or did some nameless scout recommend Durant, therefore giving the Flowery Branch brass another excuse to reshuffle their scouting department while adding to the count of former NFL general managers bunking at Camp Arthur? (The number has ballooned to five, not including Dimitroff, technically still a GM.)
I might be making too much of this. (That happens on occasion.) It’s possible Durant was seen as no more than a stopgap and the Falcons got exactly what they wanted — one season, no harm, no foul. They surely want the cap space to sign somebody better, which isn’t just permissible but advisable. But I find this top-heavy power grid bizarre, and right about now almost anything the Falcons do makes me go, “Hmmm.”
Further reading: Value bet to win the next Super Bowl? ESPN’s Tuley says the Falcons.