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Falcons get DE Abraham in three-way deal

NEW YORK (March 21, 2006) -- John Abraham finally got what he wanted when the Jets traded the Pro Bowl defensive end to the Atlanta Falcons in a three-way deal with Denver.

The Broncos had to get involved for the much-anticipated trade to finally take place. Denver and Atlanta swapped No. 1 picks, with the Broncos getting the 15th overall selection and the Falcons getting pick 29. Then the Falcons sent that pick to the Jets in exchange for Abraham, the player's agent told The Associated Press.

Atlanta also got middle-round picks in 2006 and 2007 from Denver. The NFL is expected to approve the trade March 22.

The Jets had placed the franchise tag on Abraham for the second successive year. Both sides made it clear they wanted to part ways.

Last week, the Jets and Falcons started working on a trade, but Atlanta was willing to give up only a second-round pick. The Seattle Seahawks were offering a first-round selection, and that was the deal the Jets wanted to get the maximum value for their star player.

Abraham, however, had worked out his long-sought-after long-term deal with the Falcons and refused to negotiate with Seattle. He wanted to play for Atlanta to be closer to his daughter and mother, who live in South Carolina.

Now that he is officially with the Falcons, Abraham agreed to a six-year deal.

"He's elated," said Abraham's agent, Rich Rosa. "He's very happy, he's got the long-term deal he's always wanted."

The 27-year-old Abraham made it clear he wanted out of New York once the one-year tag was placed on him last month.

After Abraham was franchised in 2005, then-general manager Terry Bradway said the team would work toward giving him a commitment if he could stay healthy for an entire season. Abraham did that, playing all 16 games for the first time since 2002 and notching 10½ sacks despite coming into training camp late.

Once again, he got nothing from the Jets. So he visited with Washington, Seattle and Atlanta last week, settling on the Falcons. Though there has been some bad blood between Abraham and the Jets, Rosa said the player has no hard feelings.

"All in all, he got an opportunity to put himself in a position, with the help of the Jets, to go where he really wanted to go," Rosa said.

Abraham, a three-time Pro Bowl selection in six seasons, has 53½ sacks, fourth on the team's all-time list. Though he stayed healthy last season, Abraham has had a history of injuries. In 2004, he missed the final four games of the season and both playoff games because of a sprained knee.

In 2003, he played in seven games but missed time with a groin injury. He also missed one because he was arrested for drunken driving. But Abraham turned himself around after that, becoming more of a leader in the locker room and on the field.

With the Falcons, Abraham is expected to play opposite Patrick Kerney, one of the better defensive ends in the league. Kerney had 6½ sacks last season and 13 in 2004. He's one of the few standouts on a defense that was among the worst in the NFL in 2005. Atlanta ranked 22nd with an average of 325 yards allowed per game.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2006, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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