Former Falcons special teams mainstay finds new home in free agency

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According to Ian Rapoport, former Falcons special teams ace Mike Ford has signed a one-year deal worth $2.25 million with the Browns.

Ford appeared in all 17 games for Atlanta last year, including two starts. Due to a myriad of injuries to the Falcons’ secondary, he logged 83 snaps on defense, but the majority of his playing time came in the third phase of the game — 361 snaps logged on special teams.

The 6-foot and 190-pound Ford has developed into one of the NFL’s top special teams players, contributing to one of the best units in the league under Marquice Williams. He coordinated the fifth-ranked special teams unit in the NFL by DVOA. The Falcons led the league in average punt return yardage, thanks to Avery Williams. The former fifth-round pick averaged 16.2 yards per return, nearly doubling the league average of 8.88 yards.

Back to Ford, who contributed in more ways than one but is confident in his ability as a gunner, tweeting he’s the best in the league.

Before landing in Atlanta, Ford spent the 2021 season in Denver and was in Detroit for the three seasons before that. He was originally an undrafted free agent out of Southeast Missouri State but has carved out a nice little role for himself.

Mike Ford’s career should be a lesson to all players aspiring to make it in the NFL. He’s the type of player who will end his career in 10 years after making $20 million playing special teams. If you thrive on third downs and in the third phase of the game, you’ll play a long time in this league. The Falcons seemingly placed an emphasis on special teams; we’ll see how they replace Ford.

The Falcons recently added Mack Hollins, who has been reliable in that facet of the gameKhaDarel Hodge is another candidate to be the gunner for the Falcons.

Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire


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