In case you missed it, the Atlanta Falcons signed offensive lineman Gabe Carimi yesterday, which we previously detailed here. While this may be viewed by many as a depth move, there is potentially some great upside in this signing.
Carimi was a first round pick out of Wisconsin by the Chicago Bears (his Sports Illustrated draft profile can be seen here) who didn’t pan out after dislocating his right knee as a rookie in his second NFL game. He came back and started the following season, but it has been reported that he lost weight and never regained his strength after the injury. As a result, his play suffered during his lone full season as starter, and the Bears moved on by trading him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carimi made 14 appearances, including 3 starts, with the Bucs during the 2013 season. He appeared to make little impact and was subsequently released last week.
Although Carimi has struggled elsewhere, there is reason to believe he may turn things around in Atlanta. It is possible that Carimi simply needed more time to regain his strength and that he will be back in shape this season. The most telling piece of information could lie with the Falcons hire of Mike Tice as offensive line coach.
Tice is one of the best offensive line coaches in the game, and he was on the Bears coaching staff when Carimi was drafted. Tice knows Carimi and understands Carimi’s struggles better than most other coaches in the NFL. In fact, Tice may be able to offer the very best insight on Carimi of all coaches in the league. This relationship, along with Tice’s coaching ability, a change of scenery, and the potential for Carimi to regain his former self, may have led the Falcons to a great free agent find at a position of dire need.
Regardless of whether this potential comes to fruition, this is an excellent low cost, high reward move, and it may prove to be a very savvy signing by Thomas Dimitroff.