With virtually no cap space heading into the new year, the Falcons had to make several cuts in order to sign any significant free agents. Some were more gut-wrenching, or head-scratching if you will than others, while a few were the result of porous spending by management. Still, Atlanta was able to acquire a couple of game-changing names — Dante Fowler Jr. and Todd Gurley — in free agency because of these decisions.
The Falcons began the cutting season with a bang, letting go of a former Pro-Bowl corner in Desmond Trufant. Tru had some trouble staying on the field for the last few years and lost a step. However, he remained the Falcons’ most reliable cornerback by a country mile, which is why this decision was a bit puzzling. The completion of the new CBA played a significant role. Had that not happened, the Falcons would not have been able to designate him a post-June 1st cut and only been able to save a little over $5 million by letting him go. Since they were able to place that label on him, the team saved closer to $11 million, making this a much more sensible direction. With that being said, the Falcons still have to find a quality replacement for him early in the draft, or this could turn out to be a substantial blunder.
Not too long after it was announced the Falcons were going to release Trufant, they parted ways with another former Pro-Bowler, Devonta Freeman. Following back-to-back Pro-Bowl campaigns under Kyle Shanahan in 2015 and 2016, the Falcons made Freeman — at the time — the highest-paid player at his position, which will go down as one of the worst decisions in the Thomas Dimitroff era. Not only was Freeman unable to produce after Kyle Shanahan left, but he was also constantly dealing with nagging injuries and only played in two games in 2018. The Florida State product missed a total of 18 games over the past three seasons.
On top of that, it was reported that the Falcons neglected to trade him before the trade deadline last season. Instead, they are cutting him now and eating $6 million in dead cap. The way this situation is point A-Z why Thomas Dimitroff should be out of a job.
When the Falcons inked a deal with Ty Sambrailo last offseason for three-years, $18 million, I could have told you this move was coming a year in advance. Sambrailo had a little success as a replacement in 2018, but the body of work over his career suggested it was a mistake handing him this deal. A year later, the Falcons are now making the obvious move to release him, saving close to $4 million in cap space.
Stocker was brought in as tight end depth from the Tennesee Titans last year. He came over with his former head coach Mike Mularkey and will be leaving with him as well (Mularkey decided to retire after the season). It was known before last season that Stocker was not much of a pass catcher, and he only caught eight balls for 53 yards. His blocking was decent, but with more cap space needed, and the trade for Hayden Hurst, this move became inevitable.