By Ryan Hunt, SI.com
To truly understand how much Peerless Price will mean to the Atlanta Falcons’ offense, perhaps a history lesson is in order.
Total number of receivers in the franchise’s 37-year history to catch 90 balls in a season? A robust three. Receivers to rack up more than 1,200 yards? Bump it all the way up to four. But how about both? Meet Terance Mathis, circa 1994.
But there was nothing run-and-shoot about Price’s 94-catch, 1,252-yard breakout with the Bills in 2002. Only 10 receivers finished with more yards than Price. Think Mike Vick is smiling? Cue the bad Bob Barker headlines!
Now that you mention it … the move to get Price cost Atlanta just its first-round pick in April’s draft, which Buffalo used on rehabbing tailback Willis McGahee. For the Falcons, though, the impact should be immediate. Price, still only just 26, looks like the missing link to an already potent Atlanta attack.
As a side benefit, his mere presence on the field will go a long way toward protecting the health of Vick. Vick had 113 rushing attempts last season, a good number of which because no Falcons receivers simply were able to get open. With Price, that’s not going to be as big of a problem.
Brin Finneran, who struggled with drops at times as the Falcons’ only main receiving threat, should feel more comfortable in the No. 2 role. The one-time undrafted free agent did set career-bests with 56 catches for 838 yards. The only other Falcon with 50 or more receptions was running back Warrick Dunn. The signing of former Cardinal MarTay Jenkins adds even more speed to the receiving corps.
And to think the Price-less Falcons became the first visiting team to win in Green Bay in the playoffs. More speed? More playmakers? To Vick and the Falcons, that is priceless.