Former 1st-round pick Sean Weatherspoon returns to Falcons
Mar. 11, 2016
ATLANTA (AP) — Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said he felt nostalgic when he returned to the Atlanta Falcons, his home for the first four years of his career, on Friday.
The Falcons have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Weatherspoon, who played in 14 games with Arizona in 2015. He was Atlanta's first-round draft pick in 2010 and he returned to the team's practice facility on Friday.
"I had fun in Arizona, but, like I told you man, my heart is in that Georgia Dome," Weatherspoon said, adding he knows the Falcons have only one more season in the facility before moving to their new Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
"I know we only have a year left in there but I want to make it a good one, man," he said.
Terms were not immediately available.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn said general manager Thomas Dimitroff sparked the team's initial interest in Weatherspoon.
"Thomas had such good experience with Sean, so he knows what he's capable of more so than anyone else from the coaching staff," said Quinn, who is preparing for his second season in Atlanta. "For sure that was a factor."
Weatherspoon started 41 games in his first four seasons and had 288 tackles with eight sacks and two interceptions. He had 11 tackles as a backup with the Cardinals last season.
Weatherspoon was recovering from a foot injury when he ruptured his Achilles tendon and missed the 2014 season. He played a full 16 games in only one season, 2011, when he had 80 tackles and a career-high four sacks.
Before his injuries, Weatherspoon (6-foot-2, 244 pounds) was known for his ability to make plays from sideline to sideline. Quinn said Weatherspoon showed last season, including with his special teams play, that he can still contribute.
"Even more specific to that, when you play a lot of zone like we do, you better be on the point as a tackler and seeing the speed was there, the tackling was there, those were the things we saw in watching him," Quinn said.
Atlanta needs help at weakside linebacker after releasing Justin Durant.
The Falcons have been active early in free agency.
The biggest move was a five-year, $47.5 million contract with former Cleveland Browns three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. The deal makes Mack the NFL's highest-paid center, with an average salary of $9.5 million.
Atlanta added another key piece to their offense by signing former Cincinnati receiver Mohamed Sanu on a five-year, $32.5 million contract. The deal includes a $7 million signing bonus.
Sanu will compete with Justin Hardy for the No. 2 receiver role behind All-Pro Julio Jones.
Quinn said Friday the bidding grew on Sanu because of his ability to beat man-to-man coverage.
"That was one of the things as a receiver as you're evaluating that you're looking at," Quinn said.
The Falcons also focused on the defensive end position on Thursday. They re-signed defensive end Adrian Clayborn to a two-year contract and signed former Miami end Derrick Shelby to a four-year deal.