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Report: The Falcons will cut Levine Toilolo to open up more cap space

Atlanta’s trying to free up some space for free agency and new contracts for stars, and Toilolo appears to be a casualty.

NFL: NFC Divisional Playoff-Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve braced myself for any number of players getting the axe this offseason as the Falcons try to free up cap space for extensions and free agency, but I do have to admit I didn’t expect Levine Toilolo to be among them. Per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, however, Toilolo will be gone just one year after signing a three year extension.

The move will free up $2.5 million in 2018 cap space if the Falcons designate Toilolo as an immediate cut, and $3.5 million if they designate him as a post-June 1 cut. Either way, it’s not a massive amount of cap space, but every bit counts when you’re trying to re-sign Adrian Clayborn and Matt Bryant and get Matt Ryan a new, probably lucrative contract in the months ahead.

It’s an unfortunate end to a fine, if at times frustrating, career in Atlanta for Toilolo. A fourth round draft pick under Mike Smith back in 2013, Toilolo joined as a promising blocker and red zone threat due to his height, but he never really developed into more than an occasionally useful pass catching threat. He did become one of the team’s better blocking tight ends, however, and had carved out a significant niche in the offense as the team’s second tight end in that role.

It’s also true, however, that Toilolo was not an elite blocker, and nor was he a significant part of the passing offense. Famously, we saw Matt Ryan wait forever in the game against the Eagles before trying to throw to Toilolo, which made you wonder just how much trust he had in the big man’s hands in the first place. The Falcons can and will replace Toilolo with a younger, cheaper player, and while that’s a genuine shame in a lot of ways, it’s also business in the NFL. They’ll use that money elsewhere.

The Falcons have reportedly shown real interest in some of the top tight ends in this draft class, including South Carolina’s Hayden Hurst, so it’s very possible they’ll take one in the first three rounds to pair with Austin Hooper. With hyper-athletic Eric Saubert developing and Hooper locked in as one of the team’s top options at the position, the Falcons could be set for years to come if they nail their draft selection.

As for Toilolo, I’m sure he’ll have no shortage of suitors after putting some quality game tape out there over the last few years. I wish him well.