The Falcons have barely played Jacob Tuioti-Mariner in 2021, which is somewhat of a surprise given their limited outside linebacker depth and his production in his limited opportunities. Even though the team elevated James Vaughters to the active roster this past weekend, I didn’t think we’d find ourselves in a situation where JTM was simply released, but here we are.
The team announced Tuesday that they’ve cut ties with Tuioti-Mariner and punter Cameron Nizialek, while adding cornerback Chris Williamson to the active roster.
We have released Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and have made other roster moves. https://t.co/QnJQhXGLXy— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) November 9, 2021
I’ll be surprised about this one for a while. Tuioti-Mariner won NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors once in 2020 and has the dual advantages of being young and affordable, so he figured to have a role on this defense in 2021 as the team tried to sort out who would be contributing in the future. Instead—and in spite of two sacks in limited playing time—JTM increasingly found himself on the outside looking in as a part-time player and ultimately healthy scratch in this outside linebacker group. It was evident that James Vaughters and Brandon Copeland had passed him on the depth chart and that rookie Ade Ogundeji is going to continue to have a major role, so with Dante Fowler’s return looming it appears the Falcons were comfortable moving on.
JTM may be back on the practice squad—he ought to be, in my humble opinion—but if not he shouldn’t have any trouble latching on with a team given that he’s had some intriguing production and is still just 25 years old. If he’s not back in Atlanta, we wish him well.
Nizialek is gone because Dustin Colquitt has settled in nicely as the team’s punter, whic his a shame because he had a strong summer and appeared to be building something after some early struggles. The Falcons will keep rolling with Colquitt and likely wind up with an entirely new punter in 2022.
Williamson joining the roster may be an indication that Kendall Sheffield will be out for a bit at cornerback. The team has a settled top three options with A.J. Terrell dominating, Fabian Moreau mostly playing well and rookie Avery Williams taking on the nickel cornerback role, but Williamson will compete with Darren Hall for snaps on special teams and defense as needed.
It feels like there may still be more moves to come before Sunday’s game against Dallas—possibly involving Fowler—so stay tuned.