Falcons sign Rex Grossman to one-year deal

The Falcons added another candidate to backup Matt Ryan.

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons signed 35-year-old quarterback Rex Grossman to a one-year, $1 million contract on Tuesday. If he wins the role, Grossman will back up starter Matt Ryan, and if the Falcons get their way, he won't throw a meaningful pass during the 2015 season.

The last time Grossman connected with a receiver in the NFL was at the end of the 2011 season. He was on the Redskins' roster in 2012 and 2013, but never attempted a throw, and was out of football last season.

Grossman went through a tryout and physical with the Falcons on Tuesday. While on the field, he threw to two receivers and showed off his arm as he was tested on the entire route tree. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said the first thing that showed during Grossman's tryout was his ability to quickly get the football out of his hand.

More important to Atlanta, however, has to be Grossman's intimate knowledge of Kyle Shanahan's offensive system.

From 2010-13, Grossman and Shanahan were together in Washington. As Grossman goes through his first practice with the Falcons on Wednesday, he'll already have a comprehension of what's going on when Atlanta has the ball. That, plus his ability to help the rest of the team transition to Shanahan's system could help seal Grossman's grasp on the backup role.

"The first thing, when you think about it, the support that our backup gives to Matt [Ryan], and help in terms of getting ready," Quinn said when asked about having a backup that already knew the offensive system. "The second process is about the competitor. How ready can he stay with limited reps in case we have to play him. that he's ready to go rock. That's kind of the balance you look for in that spot."

In a situation where the backup quarterback must be ready in case Ryan has to leave the game, Grossman probably seems like a better option to T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree, especially considering the fact that neither Yates nor Renfree have impressed in preseason action.

The Falcons won't immediately cut Yates to Renfree. Quinn said he'll let the competition play out for the time being. Grossman won't likely play against the Dolphins on Saturday, so Atlanta will need both Yates and Renfree in its third preseason game. As Grossman goes through a week's worth of practices, though, he'll slowly start to inch one of the two competitors out the door, in all likelihood.

Quinn stated that the team will only dress two quarterbacks during the regular season. That being the case, if Atlanta keeps a third passer -- and that's typically been the case of late -- how he fits on the roster could determine who the winner of the competition will be.

Since Renfree has only been in the NFL for two seasons, he's eligible for Atlanta's practice squad. That's not the case for Yates. If the Falcons want to keep Yates, he'll have to land on the 53-man roster.

Through camp and preseason action, Renfree has been a better quarterback than Yates. That, in addition to his lower salary and practice squad eligibility should give him a leg up over Yates.


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