In breaking down the NFC South salary cap situation, Ovie Mughelli got some harsh criticism by ESPN recently. The fullback has the 9th highest salary in Atlanta in 2009, which was called out as very high for a position of diminishing importance.
I will defend Atlanta and Mughelli for his salary in 2009 and his importance on the team. Yes, the wildcat is seemingly taking over the NFL, but it’s not taking over Atlanta. Norwood will have a few direct snaps here and there, but they are a traditional running football team. Mughelli paved the way for Michael Turner to run for almost 1700 yards and 17 TDs in 2008. Atlanta runs a lot of 2-back formations, so Mughelli is very important. Also, he’s a good pass blocker, which will be crucial in 2009 when Tony Gonzalez goes into the secondary on 1st and 2nd down as a receiver out of the base formation.
Yes, the other fullbacks in the division are paid far less, but Mughelli was the best fullback on the market when Atlanta signed him years back. Also, remember back when Atlanta wasn’t a good team to come to? Vick had just left and the team was struggling to find an identity. With Mughelli and Turner in the backfield, Atlanta found one in a hurry – run the football.