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Falcons reportedly cut OLB Brandon Copeland. Wait, what?

Right now, we have no idea if this is a surprise cut, a procedural move, or sparked by something we don’t know about at all. It seems like a decent bet that he’ll be back.

House of Athlete Scouting Combine Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

The Falcons promised to keep making roster moves, but they didn’t explicitly say these moves would be surprising and/or confusing. Yet here we are, learning that the Falcons have cut Brandon Copeland.

The former Patriot was expected to be a piece of the rotation at outside linebacker and a useful special teamer, but now he’s gone and recently signed former Bears linebacker James Vaughters is joining the active roster. Copeland was dealing with an injury this week but practiced fully on Sunday, so what gives?

There’s a few possibilities here, but Jason at Over The Cap has what I think is a decent guess. The cap-strapped Falcons may be making what is essentially, as he puts it, a “procedural cut” that prevents Copeland’s nearly $1 million salary from becoming guaranteed. Copeland will either join the practice squad or re-sign for what’s likely to be less money after the first game of the season, assuming he’s not scooped up by another team. I’d bet heavily on him returning in some capacity, with Vaughters getting at least a one week look with the active roster.

Michael Rothstein at ESPN has a hunch Copeland will be back too.

The Falcons must be pretty certain they can get by without Copeland for a week if that is their intent, an outlook aided by a strong summer for Ade Ogundeji, a comfort level with Dante Fowler, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Steven Means, and perhaps coach Ted Monachino’s ties to Vaughters. I was not expecting Copeland to play a huge role on defense, but the team gave every indication that they valued him as a steady veteran who could contribute, and Copeland himself clearly expected to help build a new culture in Atlanta. Given all of that and the team’s financial difficulties that would suggest a move like this would have cap-related implications, I’m not going to be at all surprised if he’s right back with the Falcons sometime after Sunday.

In the meantime, we’ll get a good look at the rest of the outside linebacker group tomorrow. Let’s hope they can excel.