Some teams have to manipulate the salary cap by restructuring contracts of their top paid players. We’ve seen this with the restructuring of Tom Brady’s contract in New England & Ben Roethlisberger’s in Pittsburgh. However some teams have to part ways with players where a succession is in place or their production can be replaced for a lot less money. Such is the case in the Falcons releasing Turner, Abraham, and Robinson.
In the case of John Abraham he has been a good player with flashes of greatness yet disappeared in games for the Falcons. He’s been injured or nicked here and there and has missed 5 games in the last three years. Soon to be 35 his best years are definitely behind him. They should be able to replace the 10 sacks he had last year for a lot less money. Don’t forget he was drafted by the New York Jets in 2000, so he has some mileage. There are other pass rushers available in free agency that have more tread on their tires. Osi Yumeniora or Dwight Freeney as a situational pass rusher could do the trick.
As for Michael Turner he has slowed down tremendously over the last year. He hasn’t shown the burst that he had when he originally hit the scene down in Atlanta. Nevermind the fact he only rushed for 800 yards last year, look how far is average per rush has dropped. He only had a 3.6 yard average last year after 4.9 in 2009, to 4.1 in 2010, to 4.5 in 2011. While it’s true that all the Falcons runners had down years in terms of average yardage per rush, Turner was their battering ram coming off back to back 1,300 yard seasons. Now that he’s turning 31 they should be able to find a runner or two to fill that void. They’re saving $6.4 million with his release so they can even go into free agency or draft a young back if they need to.
With Dunta Robinson you need to look no further than the signing of Asante Samuel last year. When Brent Grimes went down Samuel stepped in and picked off 5 passes to lead all Falcon cornerbacks and was second on the team to Thomas DeCoud with 6. With a healthy Brent Grimes returning from injury, Robinson who only defensed 8 passes and had 1 interception was expendable.
Sure they have to re-sign Grimes but these three roster cuts freed up over $16 million to put the Falcons more than $20 million under the cap. This was a healthy move for a team with serious designs on returning to the 2013 NFC Championship Game and beyond. They need to get more of an impact rusher and a serviceable back to do so, but now they have the money to acquire what they need. Abraham and Turner were diminishing returns if we’re talking late next season. There are no assurances in the NFL but these are good moves for the Falcons.
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