The 2023 NFL Draft is less than a week away, and the Atlanta Falcons have had one of the busiest free agency periods in recent memory. Atlanta has added a number of potential starters—mostly on the defensive side of the ball—including safety Jessie Bates III, defensive tackle David Onyemata, and linebacker Kaden Elliss.
If you thought the team was done tinkering heading into the draft, you’d be wrong: on Friday afternoon, the Falcons announced the release of veteran cornerback Casey Hayward Jr.
We've released CB Casey Hayward Jr.— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) April 21, 2023
Hayward, who is entering his age 34 season, was considered a potential salary cap casualty earlier in the offseason. His release saves the team $5M, with a dead cap hit of just $2M. The writing appeared to be on the wall after multiple additions at cornerback: Mike Hughes via free agency and Jeff Okudah via trade.
It’s a disappointing end to the veteran starter’s time in Atlanta, as his 2022 season was ultimately cut short after just 6 games due to injury. There was a bit of hope that Hayward would stick around at least through training camp after the Falcons held onto him throughout free agency, but it ultimately didn’t last. This move likely clears the way for a rookie in the NFL Draft, and potentially increases the likelihood of a top cornerback selection.
Join us in wishing Casey Hayward well in his NFL future.