NFL.com Albert Breer reports via a team source that the Falcons will release running back Michael Turner, defensive end John Abraham, and Dunta Robinson on Friday. ESPN first reported the news. Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out the team saved $15.9 million in cap space. Turner’s release was expected. He was set to cost $6.9 million against the cap, a huge figure for a middling veteran running back. We listed Robinson as a potential cap cut last week because his $8 million salary didn’t match up to his play. Robinson is a solid tackler and decent cover cornerback, but he hasn’t lived up to his huge contract in Atlanta. His release gives the team more room to try to re-sign cornerback Brent Grimes and safety William Moore. Abraham’s release is the biggest surprise. The Falcons need pass rushing help badly, and Abraham can still be effective. But he’s more of a part-time player at this stage that is paid like a quality starter. GM Thomas Dimitroff pointed out to the Journal-Constitution that the Falcons had one of the oldest teams in the league last year. That was last year. The Falcons are clearly not afraid to get younger.
I knew that the Falcons were going to cut Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson had not performed as well as he has during recent years, and all three players are getting old by NFL standards and were making a lot of money so I get these moves. However I am surprised that the team decided to part ways with John Abraham. Since joining the Falcons in 2006 John Abraham has been an absolute stud for Atlanta, and his former team the New York Jets openly admitted that letting him go was a mistake, he has been a force off the edge and has 122 career sacks. He has the most career sack in Atlanta Falcons franchise history with 64.5, and the biggest problem that the Falcons have had in recent years is a lack of a pass rush OTHER than John Abraham.
Rumors have circulated that the Falcons are interested in bring in free agent pass rushers Osi Umenyiora and/or Dwight Freeney, and either one would have been a menace paired with John Abraham, but without Abraham the Falcons will run into the same problem. You do not fix your lack of a pass rush by cutting one of the best pass rushers of the last decade, so unless they bring in multiple star level defensive ends this offseason, cutting Abraham makes no sense.