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Brian Banks signs NFL contract with Atlanta Falcons

The story of Brian Banks' attempted return to football was one of the more fascinating subplots of the 2012 offseason. Exonerated after being wrongly imprisoned for five years, Banks wound up making a whirlwind tour that included visits with the Seattle Seahawks, San Diego Chargers and "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno."

Banks never earned a roster spot, but he continued to work out in an effort to get all of the way back into "football shape."

His journey suddenly took a huge step forward Wednesday. Fox Sports insider and NFL Network contributor Jay Glazer reported that the Atlanta Falcons have signed Banks.

Banks' signing later was confirmed by the Falcons.

"I started working with (Brian Banks) 2 weeks after he was exonerated, promised him we wouldn't stop until someone signed him. He worked so hard for this!!!" Glazer wrote on Twitter.

"Jay, I'm on Cloud 10, I passed Cloud 9," Banks told Glazer.

A scout who recently saw Banks at one of his workouts told NFL.com's Ian Rapoport that the linebacker is in good shape. However, the scout said questions remain about Banks' football mental readiness. Since Banks missed out on learning more advanced football concepts in college, teaching Banks to think like an NFL player will be among the biggest challenges ahead, the scout told Rapoport.

Banks has long odds to make the Falcons' final 53-man roster, but he faced long odds just to get on a roster. The Falcons wouldn't give up a valuable spot simply out of charity. We wish him all the best this offseason.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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