My teaser posed a simple question: is the "writing on the wall" for Akeem Dent? That phrase has always thrown me. What does it really mean? Where did this "writing" come from? What font is it in? I prefer courier, because it's very vintage. But I digress. Akeem Dent, while capable, may need to worry about his job.
Just keeping faith!— Akeem Dent (@AkeemDent) June 3, 2014
Over the weekend, we learned that Prince Shembo is moving inside. The coaching staff believes he has a skill set that's conducive to his success there. At this point, there's 5 inside linebackers - Shembo, Dent, Sean Weatherspoon, Joplo Bartu, and Paul Worrilow - competing for what figures to be 3-4 spots. Somebody will need to go, unless for some reason the Falcons carry 5 inside linebackers. I don't see 5 happening, though 4 is certainly possible. Maybe you disagree and think the Falcons will keep all 5, in which case stop reading now and just make some derisive comment about how stupid my facts are [insert sad face].
Let's assume, for argument's sake, that Shembo definitely makes the team. The Falcons seem to like him, and given pre-draft character concerns, they probably got good value in the 4th round. That leaves Weatherspoon, Bartu, and Worrilow as Dent's competition. In my mind there's no doubt Weatherspoon trumps Bartu, Worrilow, and Dent. We can disagree about whether Weatherspoon is average, slightly above-average, or the next coming of Jessie Tuggle, but he's plenty reliable with healthy. I wish he'd tackle better and stay healthy, but he's a valuable member of the Falcons' defense. For now.
That leaves Worrilow and Bartu. Dent will need to beat out at least one to make the team. Worrilow has recently received praise from the coaching staff for his tackling prowess. Admittedly his 2013 tackle total was inflated, and tackle totals are rarely indicative of skill. But he's got solid technique. On a team looking to improve their tackling across the board, he may have an edge. Meanwhile, Bartu is no slouch. In his rookie campaign, the former undrafted free agent showcased ridiculous lateral agility, something Dent has occasionally lacked.
In the end, this could come down to money. Worrilow and Bartu will both make just shy of $500,000 this season, while Dent is due $860,725 in the last year of his rookie contract. Worrilow and Bartu represent very little in dead money, $668 and $1,668 respectively. Dent represents $135,725 in dead money if cut. Basically, by cutting Dent, the Falcons can save a couple hundred thousand dollars. Not an earth shattering move by any stretch of the imagination, but money is money.