The Atlanta Falcons parted ways with a slew of old, expensive veterans this morning, namely running back Michael Turner, cornerback Dunta Robinson and defensive end John Abraham. The moves saved them $15.9 million in cap space. All three were starters last year for the NFC finalists, but, if their skills aren’t noticeably on the decline, it’s close enough to happening that the team can’t justify the players’ cost with the salary cap rising only a few million dollars this year.
Turner was the most obvious of the three. He had his worst statistical year since joining the Falcons in 2008, despite starting every game. Of course, toward the end of the year, his starting was mostly a technicality, as Jacquizz Rodgers was siphoning more of his carries with each passing week. For those who clung to Turner in fantasy leagues, the only consolation was that Turner was still getting the precious goal-line carries. After all, if a plodding, hefty running back can’t be useful punching it into the end zone, there isn’t a whole lot he can be good for.
So it would seem the Falcons offense might benefit without being compelled to have a fat running back fall down for two yards on each sequence of downs. While Mike Smith swears Jacquizz can handle the role of a feature back, people remain skeptical, mostly because of that 5’6″, 196 lb. frame.
Abraham was the most surprising of the three cuts, seeing as how he was the only consistently useful pass rusher the team had. Of course, Peter King is already speculating Dwight Freeney as a likely candidate to replace him, because why not scrap an expensive aging situational pass rusher just to get another one? Then again, PK is best fluffing buddies with Tom Dimitroff, so this could be one of the few instances where he actually has insight into a situation.