The final day of cuts and the announcement of the initial 53-man roster generally signals the arrival of a calm before the storm of the NFL regular season. The Falcons opted against that approach, with a couple of moves which have changed the look of the running back room at Flowery Branch.
In a surprising turn of events, the Falcons announced the release of former fifth round draft selection Qadree Ollison, who was expected by many to be the team’s second string running back behind Mike Davis, with Cordarrelle Patterson also mixing in. In a corresponding move, they announced the signing of former Giants and 49ers running back Wayne Gallman to presumably take over that role instead.
We have signed RB Wayne Gallman and have released RB Qadree Ollison. https://t.co/SDM2e6KdMo— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) September 2, 2021
Ollison spent the past two seasons on Atlanta’s active roster following his selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, but he never got many touches on a team where he was far down on the depth chart. He totaled just 23 career carries, including a singular carry in 2020. With the team releasing Ito Smith earlier this offseason, many looked at Ollison as the clear cut number two running back behind the newly signed Davis. He survived the final round of cuts while D’Onta Foreman and Caleb Huntley went to the practice squad, so it seemed like a safe bet.
Gallman brings much more experience to the Falcons roster — having totaled 338 career carries and 80 receptions, in four seasons with the New York Giants, including a 2020 campaign where he started 10 games. The Giants, remember, lost Saquon Barkley to an early season torn ACL. Gallman had a career year last season, tallying 682 rushing yards and 6 rushing touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry (all career highs) while leading the Giants’ running back by committee. He’s also just two years older than Ollison despite having so much more work under his belt.
Cordarrelle Patterson is the other running back listed on Atlanta’s roster. I would guess that Davis, Gallman and Patterson will form a running back by committee, but we won’t find out about Arthur Smith’s plans for the position until Week 1. Ollison, meanwhile, could land on the practice squad in place of D’Onta Foreman or Caleb Huntley soon. With this much shake-up in the backfield, it’s probably best to assume we don’t know what’s going to happen next.