Falcons announce Brent Grimes has signed his franchise tender

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Brent Grimes will play the 2012 season for a guaranteed salary of $10.3 million after signing the franchise tender.

The Falcons have announced that Grimes, a cornerback who has played his entire five-year NFL career in Atlanta, signed the tag today.

The timing is curious: When Grimes first got the franchise tag, his agent said he had no plans to sign it. His decision to sign the tag just hours after news broke that the Falcons were discussing a trade for cornerback Asante Samuel raises the question of whether Grimes was worried that the team could trade for Samuel and then yank the tag.

That would make Grimes an unrestricted free agent, but there’s no guarantee, now that the money has dried up in free agency, that Grimes would do any better as a free agent than he can do signing the franchise tag this year and testing free agency again next year. And so that’s what Grimes will do.