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Falcons maintain depth by re-signing nine backup players

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons announced Tuesday that they have re-signed tight end Justin Peelle, linebacker Coy Wire, defensive tackle Jason Jefferson, offensive lineman Ben Wilkerson, linebacker Tony Gilbert and safety Jamaal Fudge. The Falcons also signed exclusive-rights contracts with running back Jason Snelling, cornerback Brent Grimes and safety Antoine Harris.

"All of these guys are hard-working, focused players who understand their roles," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement released by the team. "They fit into our system and what we are trying to accomplish as a team."

Peelle, a seven-year NFL veteran who also has played with the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins, joined Atlanta as a free agent last season. He caught 15 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season and scored a touchdown during the Falcons' wild-card loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

Wire joined Atlanta as a free agent last season and saw action in all 16 regular-season games, starting in four. He spent his first six NFL seasons with the Buffalo Bills and has 219 tackles and five sacks in his career.

Jefferson also joined the Falcons last season after three years with the Bills. He made 12 tackles in 13 games, with one start.

Fudge, who spent 2006 and 2007 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, came to Atlanta off waivers and made 13 tackles in 10 games. In his lone start, he set a career high with 10 tackles in a Dec. 28 game against the St. Louis Rams.

Wilkerson primarily played on special teams last season, and Gilbert was inactive for every game. Snelling, Grimes and Harris all played reserve roles last season.

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