Thanks to the new preseason schedule, where teams are playing three preseason games instead of four, roster cuts start early. The Falcons were sitting at 90 players after its first preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Sadly for these players, there was only a very short time to show the team what they could do.
Today, the Falcons announced four cuts and a player placed on injured reserve, bringing them in line with the 85 man roster requirement. Per the team, the cuts are tight end Tucker Fisk, linebacker Rashad Smith, defensive back Tre Webb, and punter Seth Vernon. Cornerback Cornell Armstrong has been placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury the team site indicates he may have suffered in the first preseason game.
Webb was a rookie camp tryout who wound up earning a spot on the 90 man roster. Our own Evan Birchfield interviewed him earlier this summer, and the versatile defensive back was hoping to catch on as a special teamer and deep reserve. The versatility should help him land his next job.
Fisk was looking to hang on as a fullback/tight end hybrid, a role similar to the one second-year pro John Raine is pushing for, and will hope to catch the eye of a team looking for someone who can play both roles and special teams. Smith had an uphill climb to make a fairly deep linebacker group but may have better luck catching on with a team that’s thinner there. Vernon appeared to be set to compete for the punter role, but the Bradley Pinion signing left him on the outside looking in. He might be the strongest bet to return to Atlanta down the line if they’re looking for a practice squad punter.
Armstrong, meanwhile, played in the first preseason game and was competing for a reserve role at cornerback. With the team moving on from Webb and placing Armstrong on IR, the battle for the last couple of spots on the cornerback depth chart will come down to CFL import Dee Alford, Lafayette Pitts, rookie Matt Hankins, and versatile veterans Mike Ford and Teez Tabor.
The NFL requires all teams to get to 85-player rosters by Tuesday, August 16 at 4 pm. While being among the first cuts could mean the team is trying to sneak one or two players onto the practice squad, in practice that is rarely the case. Failing to crack the top 85 with the Falcons could mean this is the end of the line in Atlanta for a number of these players, but they’ll hope to catch another team’s eye shortly.
For the Falcons, this is the first of many waves of cuts. Atlanta has one week until it must cut from 85 to 80 players on Tuesday the 23rd at 4 pm. One week later the team must cut from 80 to 53 by Tuesday the 30th at 4 pm. The Falcons can start putting together its expanded, 16-player practice squad after those final cuts. That’s a total of 37 players off the roster, with a maximum of 16 returning to the practice squad.
We wish all five of these players well, for Armstrong with his recovery and for the other four with finding other teams and opportunities.