Atlanta’s second round of cuts features more surprises than the first, as the team has parted way with a couple of veteran receivers and injury waived a defensive lineman I had thought would be a virtual roster lock at this point.
The Falcons are now compliant with the league’s requirement that they have an 80 man roster by 4 p.m. today, having cut ties with Geronimo Allison, Auden Tate, Kuony Deng, and Lafayette Pitts. They also waived Jalen Dalton with an injury.
We’ll start with Dalton, as he’s the biggest shock and an unfortunate cut. He was evidently injured against the Jets significantly enough that he’ll miss some time, and that comes after a strong summer that saw him making a major push for a roster spot. It’s unclear when he’ll be back in action and whether he’ll return to the Falcons down the line, but it’s a bummer that he won’t get to make an early impact for a roster that needed his help after making such a strong push. Nick Thurman, Abdullah Anderson, and others will continue to vie for a spot now with Dalton on the shelf.
Both Allison and Tate comes as at least slight surprises. After Tate didn’t play against the Jets it seemed like the writing was on the wall for him, and the towering receiver never quite made the big push for a roster spot many of us expected after the Falcons signed him this spring. Allison received much more run than Tate did this preseason and appeared to be a player the coaching staff was studying closely, but after that extended look the team apparently concluded they had better options. With Allison and Tate gone, the final spot on the roster will come down to Jared Bernhardt, Stanley Berryhill, Frank Darby, KeeSean Johnson, Damiere Byrd, and Cameron Batson. I’d consider Byrd, Darby, and Bernhardt to be the strongest candidates.
Pitts is the latest to lose out in the numbers game at cornerback, but had his moments this summer and will likely find his way onto a roster this upcoming season. Corey Ballentine, Mike Ford, Matt Hankins, and Dee Alford are in the running for one or two spots at cornerback, and Alford currently appears to be running away with that competition.
Finally, Deng was a raw but promising pass rusher who still may have a bright future in this league in another opportunity, but needs time to reach his potential. With Deng looking for a new team, a potential fifth outside linebacker slot will come down to Jordan Brailford and Quinton Bell, with Bell looking like the favorite.
The Falcons didn’t have much time to consider last night’s performance before they had to cut down to an 80 man roster, but in truth, they’ve been evaluating these players for months. The game against the Jets just provided one last look, and now the Falcons prepare for the hard task of the preseason finale and 27 more cuts to get down to a 53 man roster next Tuesday.
We wish Tate, Allison, Deng, Pitts, and Dalton well, and hope you will too.