If there is a universal truth about the Falcons over the last decade or so, it is this: It was a rare player released by the team that went on to do much of anything at all once they left Atlanta. Whether you want to ding the team for assembling subpar talent or laud them for getting the most of the players they had is up to you, but either way, most cut players didn’t go on to cover themselves in glory.
It seems likely that will change, perhaps as soon as this year. For the first time in a while, Atlanta’s got a deep enough roster that they’re almost certain to shed genuine talent, and even perhaps players who go on to achieve good things with other teams. Those are the breaks.
Exactly who am I referring to? It will depend on how the Falcons construct their roster, but consider cornerback.
Currently, we’re reading stories about Jalen Collins running with the extreme backups. That’s the same Jalen Collins who started for the Falcons down the stretch, is still young, and was selected in the second round three drafts ago. The Falcons also have Deji Olatoye (who did well in limited action), C.J. Goodwin (who went from a wide receiver to a capable corner and special teamer in record time), and even Akeem King, the big, physical corner who has seen his career derailed by injury up to this point. Two or even three of the guys on this list could be gone, and there will be teams willing to snap them up if that’s the case.
Or consider running back, where fifth rounder Brian Hill, former UDFA and solid all-around back Terron Ward, and athletic project B.J. Daniels are all competing for one job. Or even defensive end, where Courtney Upshaw and Brooks Reed could potentially be on the chopping block if other young players step up.
This is all to say that the cuts are going to be more painful this year than usual, and the talent being lost will likely be greater than any time since the great purge of 2013, may it forever darken our memory. The silver lining is that the team that emerges from that process may be one of the best the Falcons have ever put on the field, even so.