There is new information in the ongoing saga of defensive end John Abraham, but it further confirms that Abe is finished in Atlanta.
Multiple media outlets reported last night that Abraham is close to signing a deal with the Tennessee Titans. Further, USA Today is reporting that a person close to the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the public silence of both sides on this issue, says that the Falcons have actually been inquiring about bringing Abe back--although no official offer has been made--and he is not interested in returning.
It does make sense that the Falcons would have tried to bring Abe back. He has been one of the most prolific pass rushers in Falcons history. Yes, he's 35, as of yesterday. No, that's not young. But, after amassing 10 sacks last season without a true starting-caliber defensive end coming off of the other edge, it's reasonable to expect that Abe still has quite a bit of fuel in the tank. Thomas Dimitroff's standard answer for the question about bringing Abraham back was always, "Never say never." That was probably the most compelling reason for fans to continue to hold out hope for Abe's return.
However, it also makes sense that Abe would decline to return to the Falcons. It was clear that the news that he was cut left him reeling, after he appeared on NFL Network later that same day wearing all Falcons gear. If the Falcons had been interested in simply saving money, they might have tried to renegotiate his contract rather than drop him. Cutting him implied a much more final decision on their part. And, as Dave noted, the Falcons have moved on, welcoming Osi Umenyiora out of free agency, and drafting two pass-rushing DEs in Malliciah Goodman and Stansly Maponga.
The NFL is a business, and this is the side of the business that nobody enjoys. While Abraham will almost certainly accept a deal elsewhere--most likely with the Titans--that pays significantly less than the $5.75 million he was scheduled to make with the Falcons prior to his release, it's still easy to understand why he would prefer to accept less money from a team that did not cut him, as opposed to playing for a deeply discounted amount for the Falcons, particularly after signing a "hometown discount" contract with the Falcons prior to the 2012 season.
It's an unfortunate situation, as there are bound to be some hard feelings. Any player in Abe's situation would feel slighted by the Falcons, and also frustrated by the continued push from fans to return to Atlanta. Many fans are disappointed that Abe would rebuff any opportunity to return to the Falcons regardless of the circumstances. The reality is, neither the fans nor Abraham had a say in this scenario. The Falcons made the decision to cut him, knowing that the move would likely be final, and they've taken steps to move forward at the position.
Since signing with the Falcons in 2006, Abraham has amassed 68.5 regular season sacks. Last season, in addition to his 10 sacks, Abe managed 8 hits and 38 hurries on opposing quarterbacks. There were times during his tenure with the Falcons that Abraham was essentially Atlanta's pass rush. John Abraham will be missed, and I wish him all the best wherever he lands.