As of 9PM last night, the Atlanta Falcons had cut their roster down to 53 players. From the large number of players they invited to training camp and the preseason schedule, they have whittled that number down to 53.
That is the callous way of putting it, because for many of the guys who were cut, this was the totality of their NFL experience. They will never seen another NFL snap, never throw another block, make another tackle. All the way from little league, to high school, to college, they were ‘the guy’; in the span of one summer, these guys became civilians once again. They effort that these players have shown over their careers is to be lauded, as they are playing at a level higher athletically than most of the world. Whether the cut players find a spot on another NFL roster, or transition into another career field, all true fans and decent human beings would wish nothing but the best to these individuals who have suddenly been immersed in instability.
I suppose that is my ode to the cut player. It is a tough situation for all of them. However, for the Atlanta Falcons organization, it is back to business.
The players that have been cut by the Falcons are as follows: Spencer Adkins, Rico Council, Mike Cox, Drew Davis, Dominique Franks, Bryce Harris, Jerrell Harris, Tyler Horn, Marcus Jackson, Marty Markett, Kerry Meier, Dimitri Nance, Conrad Obi, Micanor Regis, James Rodgers, Pat Schiller, Peyton Thompson, Suaesi Tuimaunei and Joe Zelenka. Additionally, the Falcons have reached injury settlement with LaMark Brown and guard Andrew Jackson.
I think the majority of those names aren’t particularly earth shattering or unexpected. Many of the really minor role players, especially undrafted free-agents, were cut.
One of the names that stands out to me is Dominique Franks. He has been a liability as the 4th or 5th cornerback on the roster. Obviously the Falcons are more comfortable with Chris Owens as the 4th cornerback on the roster, but it’s not his defensive play that surprised me in the cut. Franks took a lot of punt return plays, and looked pretty good in that role in the preseason. I assume the Falcons will use Harry Douglas as the primary punt-returner, which shouldn’t be a big problem, I just wanted to let him focus on playing receiver. Of note, Franks is one of the few players who will have no difficulty finding a roster spot elsewhere. Someone could use him.
Kerry Meier was cut by the Falcons, and although I hate it for the person, it gives me a sigh of relief as a Falcons fan. Every year someone would predict Meier becoming a bigger part of this offense, being a red-zone target, only to see him not tally a single reception on the season. My only thought is what could have been had he not suffered the knee injury. He could have been the second coming of Brian Finneran.
I predicted that either Cliff Matthews or Jonathan Massaquoi might be gone once the cuts were made. Turns out I was wrong: neither would get cut. Matthews is a 2nd year player, and Massaquoi is a rookie, and while both are quite raw, both have enough potential to keep. Instead, the Falcons actually cut linebacker Spencer Adkins, a guy who rarely saw playing time. It wasn’t exactly a super-tough decision to make, but one that is rough nonetheless.
At fullback, the Falcons decided to cut Mike Cox, and keep veteran FB Lousaka Polite. Polite has a wealth of experience in the NFL for several teams. He is a fine blocker, and I wouldn’t expect to see much more than blocking out of Polite. The fact that they kept a veteran, and released Cox is an indicator to me that the Falcons don’t want to use the FB a lot this season. There are going to be a whole heck of a lot of three-receiver one-back sets from the Falcons this year. Count on it.
Finally, a position of desperate need for the Falcons continues to be tackle, left tackle in particular. Right tackle has Mike Johnson as a backup which is a terrible situation, but at least we are three deep there. But at left tackle, it is Sam ‘Brittle Bones’ Baker, and rookie Lamar Holmes. Now Baker is completely healthy this season after undergoing two back surgeries last year that severely hampered his playing ability. But no matter who the player is, it only takes one play to spell disaster at the position. I think Lamar Holmes could be good one day, but it’s not probably going to be this year. Honestly, I don’t want to find out, I want a healthy Baker out there, such that he is. There isn’t going to be a really great left tackle out there in free-agency, but there will be one with at least some veteran NFL experience that could be signed. The Falcons need one desperately.
Those are the major news and notes following cut-day. Its a rough, wild ride. Keep your eyes here for additional news if the Falcons are able to sign a left tackle or another player valuable for depth. Most importantly, enjoy a great day of College Football. Go Blue!