Atlanta hauls one in
Falcons give Vick a target by acquiring receiver from BillsPosted: Friday March 07, 2003 11:53 AM
Updated: Saturday March 08, 2003 2:34 AM
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) -- Michael Vick has some help.
The Atlanta Falcons acquired Peerless Price in a trade with the Buffalo Bills on Friday, landing a fast young receiver to go with their stunning young quarterback.
The Falcons gave up their first-round pick -- No. 23 overall -- but considered that a small price to address their No. 1 need on offense.
"This gives us a dimension that we needed," head coach Dan Reeves said. "When he touches the ball, he can go the distance."
Atlanta desperately needed a deep threat at receiver. Last season, Brian Finneran led the team with just 56 catches.
Even so, Vick was voted to the Pro Bowl in his first year as a starter and led the Falcons to the second round of the playoffs. Now, with Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett in the backfield and Price on the outside, Vick could be even more dangerous.
"We've got speed at running back, wide receiver and quarterback," Reeves said. "We're going to present a lot of problems."
The 26-year-old Price had a breakout season for the Bills, ranking seventh in the NFL with 94 receptions for 1,252 yards and nine touchdowns. Now, he'll be catching passes from Vick.
"Atlanta was the hot ticket last year," Price said. "Hopefully, we'll be even better this year."
The Bills didn't want to spend that kind of money on Price, especially when they need defensive help. By making the trade, Buffalo also reclaimed a spot in the first round of the draft, having traded its No. 1 pick last spring to acquire quarterback Drew Bledsoe from New England.
"Peerless wants to be a No. 1 receiver, which he would not be here," Buffalo team president Tom Donahoe said. "He wanted to be compensated like a No. 1 receiver, which obviously we could not do. So it may be one of those situations which works out for both teams."
Still, Donahoe was sorry to give up Price, who has improved each year since being picked in the second round out of Tennessee in 1999.
The 5-foot-11, 190-pound receiver caught 31 passes as a rookie, improved to 52 and 55 the next two seasons, then became one of the league's best in 2002.
"It's been fun to watch him develop," Donahoe said. "The biggest frustration with free agency is you draft a player and develop a player, and then many times a player walks out of here and you have nothing to show for it."
To complete the deal, Price and the Falcons agreed on a seven-year contract. Tim McGee, the receiver's agent, wouldn't give specific terms, but did say the signing bonus was around $10 million and the total compensation was between $35 million and $40 million.
Price lives in Atlanta in the offseason and spent last weekend visiting the team. He limited Buffalo's options by refusing to visit any other city.
McGee said the deciding moment came when the Falcons gave Price a tour of the Georgia Dome. As he walked into the stadium, team officials began showing a video on the big screen that intermixed highlights of Vick and Price while the spicy rap riff Welcome to Atlanta blared over the loudspeakers.
"That was totally unexpected," McGee said. "It really sent chills down everyone's spine. It was like, 'Hey, this is real.'"
Falcons owner Arthur Blank also relied on one of his favorite tactics, inviting Price to dinner at his home. They were joined by players Keith Brooking, Bob Whitfield and Keion Carpenter.
And Vick stopped by Price's hotel and spent about two hours selling him on the idea of playing for the Falcons.
"I told Peerless it wasn't going to get any better than this," McGee said. "Everyone wants to send their clients to Atlanta."
The Falcons passed up a chance to pick Price in 1999, a move that seemed imminent when they traded up in the second round. Instead, they took tight end Reggie Kelly.
Four years later, Atlanta was eager to rectify its mistake.
"This is a player we've wanted around here for a long time,"
said Ron Hill, senior vice president of football operations. "He
solves a lot of problems."