The Atlanta Falcons cut linebacker, Mykal Walker, after their first preseason game despite having very little depth at the position. Walker had a very rough first preseason game that perfectly showed the struggles he had throughout the 2022 season and Atlanta didn't hesitate to move on and save the cap space for a player that hadn't fully lived up to expectations.
Walker started the majority of Atlanta's games last season but struggled to play at a consistent level. Mykal flashed his potential for one set of defensive snaps only to look completely lost on the next possession.
Moving on wasn't terribly surprising but the timing of the move was and sent a clear message to the rest of the roster. From the time that Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot have taken over, they have preached that your salary and experience doesn't matter you will practice and play at a high level or the team will move on.
This included players like Deion Jones whom Atlanta willingly took a large dead cap hit for to be able to move on. The salary hasn't mattered but the level of play and the expectations for consistent growth are what judges who start on this roster.
While Smith and Fontenot have been consistent on these points it is worth noting that Marcus Mariota, Jalen Mayfield, and Feleipe Franks all remained starters or on the roster for far too long. These are outliers, however, and not how the duo has consistently operated when making roster decisions.
This serves as a warning not only to young players fighting for a role on this roster but Atlanta's veterans that any player that doesn't meet expectations can and will be moved on from. Walker had a rough preseason debut this year but still, the move comes as a bit of a shock when you consider that there are still two weeks to go and there is very little depth at the position.
For now, it seems Atlanta is content with Kaden Elliss and Troy Andersen as their starters with little depth behind two players that haven't been given such a role. Rashaan Evans and a number of veteran options remain on the market for a team that clearly could use an addition to what is now an even thinner linebacker depth chart.
Walker had some great moments with Atlanta with one of his more memorable plays being ruining Cam Newton's return to Carolina picking off the veteran quarterback. Walker marks the end of yet another player of the past regime that clearly didn't live up to expectations.