Falcons clear cap space, release Levine Toilolo, Derrick Shelby

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 20: Tight end Levine Toilolo (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 20: Tight end Levine Toilolo (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

With free agency approaching quickly, the Atlanta Falcons decided to clear some cap space on Friday by releasing two players.

The Atlanta Falcons Friday announced the release of tight end Levine Toilolo and defensive end Derrick Shelby.

Toilolo was drafed by the Falcons in 2013 and spent five years with the team.

At 6’8″, Toilolo was brought in to fill the shoes of legendary tight end Tony Gonzalez, as Gonzalez was 37 entering the 2013 season.

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However, Toilolo never developed into a true pass-catching threat that many hoped he would be. Toilolo caught just 74 passes for 723 yards and seven touchdowns in his five seasons.

He did serve as a solid blocking tight end during his five years with the team and provided the team with depth at the tight end position.

The Falcons signed Toilolo to a three-year, $12 million  contract last March. Releasing him saves the team $2.5 million in cap space.

Shelby was signed by the Falcons in the 2016 offseason to a four-year, $18 million contract after spending four years with the Dolphins.

Shelby appeared in just six games in 2016 before being lost for the season due to injury. In 2017, Shelby totaled 30 tackles and one sack. He provided much needed depth at the defensive end position, as Dan Quinn likes to rotate players along the defensive line.


The release of Shelby increases the chances that free agent Adrian Clayborn will re-sign with the Falcons. Atlanta cannot afford to lose two defensive ends, let alone their leading sack man from 2017. Expect Clayborn to be back in Atlanta in 2018.

These two moves free up room for Matt Ryan‘s upcoming monster contract extension, along with more money to play with in free agency. With the front office letting Dontari Poe and Taylor Gabriel hit free agency, there are a few holes on this roster.

All of these positions are not must-need upgrades, but could be addressed this offseason. These needs are:

  1. Defensive tackle
  2. Offensive guard
  3. Slot receiver
  4. Fullback
  5. Depth at defensive end
  6. Depth at tight end
  7. Nickel cornerback

Next: Club will lose 3 in free agency, Andy Levitre to remain

Thomas Dimitroff and company will probably sure up most of these needs in the 2018 Draft. If the team chooses to fill these voids in free agency, however, they now have more money to play with.