The Atlanta Falcons made some big news in the NFL today, as the team announced that they had released defensive end John Abraham, cornerback Dunta Robinson, and running back Michael Turner. The moves free up a total of $15.9 million for the Falcons, which means that Atlanta may now be in play for some of the major free agents that will be available this offseason.
The release of Turner was expected due to his recent output, as the former Chargers running back managed just 800 yards and 10 touchdowns with an average of 3.6 yards per carry, his lowest average in his entire nine-year career. Despite his importance in the team’s success early in the Mike Smith era with the team, Turner has obviously been worn down due to his carries, which led to ESPN reporter Adam Schefter reporting exactly one week ago that the Falcons were likely to release the team’s record holder for rushing touchdowns in a career.
The team’s decision to hand Robinson his walking papers is a bit surprising in the fact that the team decided to do so at this point, but not that shocking once you watch the film on the former South Carolina player. Robinson’s coverage skills were constrained to playing zone and attempting the big hit that has become very unpopular to the officials in the NFL office, made obvious by the league handing down two fines—one in the amount of $50,000, the second for $40,000—to him following vicious hits on defenseless receivers. The fact of the matter is that Dunta Robinson was set to make $3.75 million for the next season, and his performance during his tenure with the Falcons made it very obvious that he was not worth the money.
Atlanta’s conclusion to release John Abraham is undoubtedly the most surprising of the three players due to his importance on the defense—after all, he is truly the only consistent pass rusher the team has had since Patrick Kerney left the 2006 season—and his output for the team just a season ago (ten sacks and six forced fumbles). Despite playing very well despite battling injuries at the tail end of the year, the team ultimately decided to part with the thirty-four year old, a move that gives the team a nice $5.75 million cushion to play with.
Although these players were well-liked by the fans, the team’s decision to release all three makes one point very clear: the team will be making a play on at least one talented free agent this offseason. The team has been linked in the last few weeks to running backs Shonn Greene, Reggie Bush, and Steven Jackson as well as defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora, and even though the extent of the interest is honestly just limited to rumors right now, it is a safe bet that some new veterans will be joining the ranks of Dirty Bird nation very soon.