The Falcons have announced that they’ve released cornerback Kendall Sheffield and Ryan Becker, a pair of moves that will have fairly significant impacts on the bottom of the Falcons depth chart at their respective positions. It’s also the end of Sheffield’s time in Atlanta after the team held on to him long enough that you might’ve assumed he was once again going to be on the roster in 2022.
The Sheffield move, which frees up about $2.5 million in cap space, is a clear sign the Falcons are not done in free agency. The 2019 fourth rounder was a player that Dan Quinn and his coaching staff appeared to like a lot, as he started 20 games over his first two years. Sheffield gave up a lot of yards over that span, but his speed and the glimpses of his physicality we saw were intriguing. In 2021, however, there was a new regime in town and Sheffield spent most of the summer and the early season injured, giving him little in the way of an opportunity to make an impression on the coaching staff.
With an extremely crowded cornerback depth chart, it seemed like a matter of when and not if with Sheffield, and the Falcons releasing him now suggests they’re comfortable with their depth options and would like to put the money they’ll save from releasing him to use elsewhere. Former Canadian Football League standout Dee Alford is among the players who will compete for Sheffield’s roster spot as the likely fifth cornerback in Atlanta, while Sheffield’s speed, physicality and youth will likely earn him a look elsewhere in short order.
Becker seemed to be making a strong push for a roster spot last summer before he was injured, but he won’t have the opportunity to do that again in Atlanta. The release is probably a direct response to the team drafting Georgia tight end John FitzPatrick, who will be competing for (and will likely get) a roster spot in the coming months.
We wish Sheffield and Becker well at their next stops, as I’m sure neither one will remain unsigned for long.