The Falcons also inked exclusive rights contracts with running back Jason Snelling
, cornerback Brent Grimes
and safety Antoine Harris
"All of these guys are hard working, focused players who understand their roles," said General Manager Thomas Dimitroff. "They fit into our system and what we are trying to accomplish as a team."
Peelle was signed by the Falcons as a free agent on August 31, 2008 and was inserted into the starting lineup in Week 13, filling in for an injured Ben Hartsock
. Having competed in all 16 games (11 starts), Peelle caught 15 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns. In Atlanta's Wild Card Playoff contest against the Arizona Cardinals, he contributed with three receptions for 11 yards and one touchdown, which gave the Falcons a 17-14 halftime lead. Peelle is a seven-year veteran who also competed with the San Diego Chargers
(2002-2005) and Miami Dolphins
(2006-2007). He has caught 100 career passes for 773 yards and nine touchdowns.
After being signed by the Falcons as a free agent on July 25, 2008, Wire saw action in all 16 regular season games, starting in four. He compiled 24 tackles (17 solo) and one pass defensed. Wire spent the first six seasons of his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills
(2002-2007) and has accumulated 188 tackles (117 solo), five sacks, one forced fumble and five passes defensed.
Jefferson joined the Falcons last season after being signed as a free agent on August 31, 2008. The four-year veteran contributed with nine tackles (eight solo) and one fumble recovery in 13 games last year.Wilkerson competed primarily on special teams last season and has seen action in 32 career games.
Gilbert, a five-year veteran who also spent five seasons in Jacksonville (2003-2007) with Head Coach Mike Smith, was signed to the Falcons roster as a free agent on August 31, 2008. The University of Georgia
graduate was inactive for every contest last season.
Fudge was claimed off of waivers by the Falcons on September 2, 2008 and saw action in 10 games (one start) while contributing with 12 tackles (nine solo). He set a career-high with 10 tackles against the St. Louis Rams
in his lone start on December 28, 2008.
In his second season with the Falcons after being selected by Atlanta in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Snelling posted 15 carries for 62 yards and eight receptions for 89 yards. In his career, he has played in 23 games (one start) and posted 28 carries for 105 yards and one touchdown.
Grimes started in six games for Atlanta last season and finished the year with 36 tackles (29 solo) and six passes defensed. He intercepted his first career pass against the Kansas City Chiefs
in a Week 3 meeting.Harris, a standout special teams player, competed in 12 games last season before being placed on injured reserve on December 9, 2008. He finished the season with two special teams tackles.
The Atlanta Falcons today re-signed tight end Justin Peelle, linebacker Coy Wire, defensive tackle Jason Jefferson, offensive lineman Ben Wilkerson, linebacker Tony Gilbert and safety Jamaal Fudge.
Several role-players are coming home to roost.