It would seem that the Ovie Mughelli slobber-knocker era in Atlanta is done. According to a league report, the Atlanta Falcons have released the nine-year fullback. The Falcons made Mughelli the highest paid fullback in league history in 2007 – giving him a six-year deal worth $18 million – when they brought him in from the Baltimore Ravens.
Mughelli had been a durable and versatile player for the Falcons, and was regarded as one of the best blocking fullbacks in the league. In 2010 he was named to his second All-Pro team, and to his first Pro-Bowl squad. Seven games into 2011, he suffered a season-ending knee injury (torn MCL) against the Detroit Lions. Atlanta signed former Georgia Tech fullback Mike Cox to finish out the 2011 season.
The Falcons drafted fullback Bradie Ewing out of Wisconsin in the fifth round of this year’s NFL draft, which signaled to many that Mughelli’s days might be numbered in Atlanta. Given the $4 million they would have to pay Mughelli this year, it’s not surprising that this kind of move was made, as Atlanta will need to free up some cash to pay this season’s rookie salaries.
Ewing had been used more as a receiving and rushing fullback in college, which could be good or bad for Atlanta. Mughelli’s knack for pancaking defenders and opening running lanes for Michael Turner was sorely missed after his injury last season, so Ewing will have be ready to take on a much smaller role in the offense if the Falcons intend for him to fill those shoes.
Mughelli was drafted out of Wake Forest University in the fourth round of the 2003 NFL draft by the Ravens. He has 120 rushing yards, 62 receptions for 490 yards, and seven touchdowns for his career.
UPDATE: 11:00 am – The Falcons have now confirmed Mughelli’s release.