John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
ESPN’s Adam Caplan is reporting that the Falcons plan to release free safety Thomas DeCoud before the March 15th deadline upon which DeCoud’s base salary will become guaranteed.
DeCoud, the Falcons starting free safety is coming off the worst year of his career and in releasing him the Falcons would save around $3 million.
2013 was a horrible year for the Falcons defense and nothing epitomized this more than the play of Thomas DeCoud. Coming off a pro bowl year there were high hopes for DeCoud and his partner in crime William Moore. As we all know the year did not plan out as hoped and DeCoud’s pro bowl form soon vanished. In 2012 DeCoud picked off a career high six passes while knocking away another 9. In 2013 he picked off no passes and only knocked away 2. This dramatic drop in pass coverage is worrying for DeCoud as his game is based around pass defense and creating turnovers.
However, just because DeCoud had a down year doesn’t mean the Falcons should abandon ship. How many players didn’t have a down year in 2013? If the Falcons take this course of action then a lot more players than DeCoud should be getting cut.
One of the main gripes Falcons fans have with DeCoud is his missed tackles and poor angles. However DeCoud was aware of his liability when tackling and made a conscious effort to improve. This improvement can be seen in his statistics. In 2012 DeCoud misses 24 tackles, in 2013 he only missed 12.
DeCoud has unfairly become a scapegoat for the Falcons defense in recent years. Yes DeCoud has had his fair share of bad plays and yet so has his partner William Moore but people are far less inclined to call Moore out when he bites on a play action pass which results in a walk in touchdown.
Ok, so the Falcons release DeCoud, who replaces him? Zeke Motta? A free agent? A draft pick?
Another reason i don’t like releasing DeCoud is there are very limited options to replace him. Jarius Byrd was the big prize on the free agent market but he reportedly will be tagged. A player who the players have been linked to is former Detroit Lion, Louis Delmas. Delmas. Really? I like Delmas but his injury history terrifies me. If the Falcons sign Delmas then they can not realistically expect his knees to last a full season.
There are some good safeties at the top end of this draft and a player like Jimmie Ward will probably be available at the top of the second round. But even this has its problems. I love Ward and think he would be a good draft pick but the chances of him coming in and playing better than DeCoud in his rookie season are not good. The Falcons have so many holes do we really want to open up another hole on the roster which will use up badly needed draft picks?
Perhaps Zeke Motta can start. Cute. Motta is a back up in the NFL, nothing more.
DeCoud is not an amazing safety by any means and his pro bowl tag flatters him. He is however not nearly as bad as some people are saying he is. DeCoud is a solid free safety playing one of the most difficult positions on the field who gets a lot of unwarranted hate. If the rumors are true then ill be sad to see you go 28, best of luck wherever you end up, you deserved better.
(All stats courtesy of ESPN and Pro Football Focus)