Sean Weatherspoon's up-and-down career in Atlanta may be over.
This is a surprise: #Falcons LB Sean Weatherspoon will hit the open market and is unlikely to be back in Atlanta. Was a priority.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 7, 2015
It's unclear what happened here, because every report and indication leaned toward a deal getting done, and the reliable Vaughn McClure tweeted out yesterday that a Falcons-'Spoon extension would be coming very soon. Either the Falcons weren't as close to signing Weatherspoon as they thought they were or something soured in the last 24 hours. Either way, it looks like Weatherspoon is now expected to hit the open market, where he's unlikely to return to the Falcons.
UPDATE: Per Rand Getlin, Weatherspoon is leaning toward the Cardinals. That's a team with an effective defense already in place, and 'Spoon has reportedly been one of their targets. It's a fit.
'Spoon was a vital cog for the Falcons from 2010-2012, serving as the team's most athletic, talented linebacker and one of the defense's few playmakers. Injuries wrecked his 2013 and 2014 seasons, however, and finding the dollars to make a deal work considering the need to balance injury risk with talent may have been a roadblock to getting a deal done. If this is it for 'Spoon, he finishes his Falcons career with 290 tackles, eight sacks, 15 pass deflections, two interceptions and a forced fumble.
The Falcons will be in the market for multiple linebackers and may well draft one or two more, considering the dire need at the position. They said publicly they wanted to keep Weatherspoon and are no doubt disappointed to see him go. There should be a robust market for Weatherspoon's services—the Cardinals are reportedly interested—but we'll have to see what kind of deal he gets. We wish him luck, but I wish he was coming back, too.