Posted March 01, 2013

John Abraham, Dunta Robinson, Michael Turner all cut by Falcons

Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons acquired John Abraham via trade in 2006. (John Bazemore/AP)

The Atlanta Falcons acquired John Abraham via trade in 2006. (John Bazemore/AP)

John Abraham, Dunta Robinson and Michael Turner played a combined 224 regular season games for the Atlanta Falcons. And it appears that tally will stop right there.

All three veterans were released Friday by the Falcons in a trio of cost-cutting moves. In all, those decisions will save Atlanta $15.9 million off next year’s salary cap, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — $6.4 for Turner, $5.75 for Abraham and $3.75 million for Robinson, while the Falcons also avoid having to pay a $3 million roster bonus to Robinson later this month.

“As a football coach it is never easy to cut any player, especially veteran players who have been valuable members of the organization,” Atlanta coach Mike Smith said in a statement. “The guys we released today have contributed to the success that we have had over the last five years, and we greatly appreciate their efforts.”

There was speculation that all three of these moves might be coming but, at least in the cases of Abraham and Robinson, they leave the Falcons with holes to plug via the draft or free agency. Robinson started all but one game over the past three seasons, delivering four interceptions and 25 pass break-ups during that time.

Abraham, meanwhile, led the Falcons with 10 sacks in 2012, the third straight season he’s paced Atlanta’s defensive attack. Even with Abraham’s efforts, the Falcons finished with just 29 total sacks last season, the fourth-worst mark in the league. Now, Atlanta will have to find a way to replace its top defensive end and somehow upgrade its pass rush in the process.

The 31-year-old Turner averaged 1,216 yards on the ground in his five seasons with Atlanta, though his total plummeted to 800 in 2012, as he averaged a career-worst yards per carry (3.6). He also averaged fewer than 14 rush attempts per game, with Jacquizz Rodgers cutting into his playing time.

Rodgers, no doubt, will be a huge part of the Falcons’ offensive plans heading into 2013. With Turner out of the picture, only Rodgers and fullback Jason Snelling remain with any experience running the football in this offense. Rodgers rushed for 362 yards on 94 carries in 2012; Snelling gained 63 yards on 18 attempts.

The Falcons could use their new-found money to lock up a host of their own free agents, including S William Moore, OT Sam Baker, CB Brent Grimes (who was franchise tagged last offseason) and, of course, TE Tony Gonzalez. Atlanta is still awaiting word on Gonzalez’s plans for the 2013 season.

Also facing Atlanta in the near future: a needed contract extension for Matt Ryan. The Falcons’ 27-year-old QB has just one year left on his current deal at $10 million. Once Joe Flacco and the Ravens agree to terms on a new contract, potentially setting the standard for QBs, Ryan and the Falcons might get to work on their own agreement.

Whatever is to come, there’s no question that things will look a little different for the Falcons in 2013. They guaranteed that with Friday’s decisive hack at the roster.

GALLERY: NFL VETERANS IN NEED OF A NEW TEAM

19 comments
M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

If the Falcons replace these cut guys with other aging expensive veterans (Dwight Freeney, Steven Jackson) they are taking 1 step forward, 2 steps back. If they committ to youth, it might have growing pains, but it's better than having the bottom fall out.

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

The salary cap is one of the best things the NFL has ever done.  Its what allows almost every team to remain competitive without allowing teams to try and buy a super bowl.  This competitiveness is why the NFL is so much better than the other major sports league.

GTT
GTT

 @M as in Mancy I agree they need to go younger with more upside than with older retreads. There's a lot of defensive talent in this draft and I'd use every pick but one (RB) on the defense.

John4
John4

 @M as in Mancy Note that Jackson will be looking for a SB.  So Atlanta is not a likely destination.  As much as this hurts, I can see Jackson signing with NE.  That would really sting if he did.  It appears that Freeney is going to Denver.  

6marK6
6marK6

 @GoPSULions Are you insane? It is the worst thing about football. It does not allow great dynasties to come about and causes solid football players to get cut when they did not deserve to be. It was a step to save owners money, not to enhance the game. Nothing quite like having a two year window to win before you have to gut your team.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@GTT I hope the Falcons botch their draft because this team looks like it's ready to take that next step. Young defensive talent is always a good investment.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@John4 I hope to high heaven that Freeney stays away from Denver. He is an Elvis Dumervil clone: overpaid, undersized, sack specialists who are liabilities in every other aspect of the game. Good guys, but Dumervil is the most overpaid player on the team. We don't need 2.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@6marK6 @GoPSULions Dude, unless you're a Dallas Cowboys fan whose owner/president/GM has no clue on how to evaluate talent or manage the salary cap, the salary cap is great! It gives every well-run team a chance to win after a short rebuild. Even well run MLB teams often can't sniff the playoffs because they can't pay their talent beyond their rookie contracts because of no salary cap. Which is why by June most baseball games exist only to day-drink and pick up chicks. There's no real hope.

Jim C
Jim C

 @6marK6  @GoPSULions I suppose it depends on one's definition of a dynasty. Even in the salary cap era, there are teams that consistently make their respective conference championship games (more in the AFC than NFC, but still). The ability to manage the cap, to keep good players happy and under contract, is a skill some teams still have yet to master (see the NY Jets as an example). A football team will not cut deserving players unless the players want more money than the team believes they're worth. If the player wants to stay, he'll restructure his contract (and in many cases earn more guaranteed money).

GoPSULions
GoPSULions

 @6marK6 It levels the playing field.  Look at MLB where teams can attempt to purchase titles.  NFL allows most teams hope at the start of every season.  The team does not do the gutting - it is players asking for $ that makes the cuts necessary.  Some players are willing to cut a deal to stay with a team - many are simply after the biggest buck.

Scramble
Scramble

 @6marK6  @GoPSULions Nothing like having to listen to Steeler fans brag about their four steroid wins and two referee wins. If I wasn't a Ravens fan I would have wanted the Niners to get their sixth trophy.

pandah462
pandah462

 @6marK6  What's so great about having "great dynasties"?  Isn't it more interesting having rotating dominance?

John4
John4

 @M as in Mancy   Interesting take on Freeney and Dumervil, and I see your point.  Freeney never excited me for doing anything other than rush the QB.  Redundant specialists (especially old re-treads) can be a recipe for disaster.  

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@John4 Ever since free agency started in 1993 or 1994, Dallas hasn't had much success once their amazing 1990s core got old. JJ has had almost 20 years to figure it out, but can't. In any discussion about salary cap, Dallas is an example of not maximizing it. Even Arizona has appeared in a Superbowl! I lived in Dallas so I feel their fans' pain from cap mismanagement...

John4
John4

 @M as in Mancy  Manyc - how's it going?  OK, you wrote a very intelligent comment, as usual, but probably did not to put in the "dig" about the Dallas Cowboys here.  The comment about the Cowboys was true, only unnecessary here!

JeffreyRayStone
JeffreyRayStone

 @GoPSULions  @6marK6 Levels the playing field? MLB with no salary cap, has more teams that have won championships in the past 20 years than the NFL or NBA and it isnt even close

FTF
FTF

 @Scramble  @6marK6  @GoPSULions I was going to respond to 6marK6's idiotic remarks, but then I realized he's just an internet troll.  Okay, man... you got your 5 minutes of attention... now let the big boys have their football talk, please.  Thank you.

6marK6
6marK6

 @pandah462 It is a sign of greatness, not just whichever transient franchise wins it this year. No drama, no legacy.