Biermann steps forward as starting DE for Falcons

Biermann steps forward as starting DE for Falcons

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Ray Edwards' loss is Kroy Biermann's gain for the Atlanta Falcons.

Biermann took over as a starting defensive end earlier this week after the Falcons cut Edwards, but the move was a bit ceremonial.

Biermann had already started three times at left end ahead Edwards, whose goodwill expired after he managed no sacks in nine games this year and just 3.5 in 16 games last season.

Right end John Abraham, the NFL's active career sacks leader, believes Biermann deserves the job full-time.

``He'll do whatever they want him to do,'' Abraham said. ``He's just a great all-around guy and he has no stipulations about what he will and will not do.''

That didn't seem to be the case with Edwards, who had a combined 16.5 sacks in his last two years before leaving Minnesota as a free agent.

Edwards' inability to fit in, however, no longer concerns tackle Jonathan Babineaux, the longest-tenured Falcons defensive player at eight years.

``You've just got to move on, you know?'' Babineaux said. ``It's unfortunate that the situation happened. I don't know to what extent or why it happened, but I'm a player. I do what I'm told. That's why we have management, GMs and a team president to take care of stuff like that.''

Biermann, who started 14 games in 2010, originally lost the left end job last year when the NFL lockout ended and Atlanta signed Edwards to a contract with $11 million guaranteed.

But after watching Biermann flourish in the scheme designed by first-year defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, the Falcons decided that Edwards was no longer needed in a diminished role.

Biermann, who's never missed a game since getting drafted in the fifth round of '08, is eager to show that he's worthy of the promotion. He has eight tackles for lost yardage and two sacks.

``I approach my job the same every day and that is to come here, work hard, get better and do whatever I can to help this team win,'' Biermann said. ``Being asked to do multiple positions and cover kicks and play the game of football, however I can contribute and help this organization, I'm glad to do it.''

Cliff Matthews and rookie Jonathan Massaquoi also are likely play additional snaps when Atlanta (8-1) hosts Arizona (4-5) on Sunday.

Matthews has earned playing time by making the most of his chances in practice. A seventh-round pick from South Carolina last year, Matthews was inactive for every game as a rookie and has been used sparingly in just four games this season.

Massaquoi, a fifth-round pick from Troy, has been active for just one game. He is listed as the third-string right end with fourth-year veteran Lawrence Sidbury second-string.

``They are all young guys that have not done the job yet,'' Nolan said. ``They are talented young guys. They work well in practice. They've shown the ability to at least get the shot to do the job of playing defensive end. But all three of them are guys that we're hoping to develop, and we've got to start that process at some time so it looks like it will be it.''

Edwards' departure means that the Falcons use a committee to complement Abraham, their only elite pass rusher since left end Patrick Kerney signed with Seattle as a free agent in 2007.

Kerney left Atlanta as the franchise's No. 3 career leader in sacks. The Falcons drafted Jamaal Anderson as his successor, but he never came close to justifying getting drafted eighth overall in 2007.

Anderson managed just 3.5 sacks in four seasons, lost the job to Biermann in Week 2 of 2010 and was cut in training camp last year.

``I really don't worry about who's on my other side so much anymore,'' Abraham said. ``Being 13 years in the league, not having I guess a big-name guy beside really doesn't matter. My teammates here have done a great job and have helped me on the field. I know my main priority is to get to the quarterback so I really don't rationalize about having anyone else around me.''

Now it's Biermann's turn. He has played a variety of roles under Nolan, even lining up deep at safety for snaps that confused quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Michael Vick in wins over Denver and Philadelphia.

``It's been fun and it's something obviously they wouldn't be doing if they didn't feel comfortable,'' Biermann said. ``They're not going to put anybody out there in the position that they're going to make a fool out of them. It was kind of a touch-and-go thing on both sides. They had to feel me out, and I had to feel the scheme out. Things have continued to evolve, and it's been good so far.''


Follow George Henry at


Online: and

Quick Links

Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

USA Today Sports Images

Paul Richardson's Redskins contract is team friendly early

The Redskins’ contract with wide receiver Paul Richardson is very team friendly in the first year but it increases over the years to the point where he needs to be a very productive receiver in order to justify staying on the roster.

The big picture of the deal is $40 million over five years. A total of $12.5 million is fully guaranteed at signing, which is comprised of a $10 million signing bonus, his $1.5 million 2018 salary, and $1 million of his $5 million 2019 salary.

More money will become guaranteed if Richardson is on the roster as of five days after the start of the league years in 2019 and 2020. The remaining $4 million of his 2019 salary and $3.5 million of his $6 million 2020 salary become guaranteed on those dates.


Richardson will get salaries of $7.5 million in 2021 and 2022. Each year of the contract he can earn $500,000 in per-game roster bonuses ($31,250 for each game he is on the 46-man game day roster).

It all adds up to the following salary cap numbers:

2018: $4 million
2019: $7.5 million
2020: $8.5 million
2021: $10 million
2022: $10 million

The average annual value of the contract is $8 million, which is tied for 24th among NFL receivers.

The first window the Redskins have to terminate Richardson’s contract without taking a negative cap hit would be in 2020 as long as they do it prior to the fifth day of the league year when the partial salary guarantee kicks in. They would take a $6 million deal cap hit but they would save a net of $2.5 million.

The last two years, when the cap numbers are at their highest, the Redskins could easily move on, saving $6 million in cap space in 2021 and $8 million in 2022.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."