The three year, frustrating saga of Jalen Mayfield and the Atlanta Falcons has come to a close. The team has waived Mayfield and three other players among their initial wave of cuts, bringing the roster down to 86 players, if my math is correct.
Falcons reporter Terrin Waack clued us in to some of these names when she posted a list of players missing from practice Saturday, which included Mayfield. The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz reports that Mayfield, defensive linemen Justin Ellis and Delontae Scott, and cornerback Bless Austin are the first cuts ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.
Also cut from the roster: DLs Delontae Scott and Justin Ellis and DB Bless Austin. https://t.co/9Pzoa3xRQE— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) August 26, 2023
Mayfield, a 2021 third round pick, converted to guard from his college position of tackle and started 16 games in his rookie season. It was a brutal initial year for the rookie as he was pressed into action unexpectedly with Josh Andrews just before the season started, and then he missed the entire 2022 season with a back injury. Heading into a critical third summer in Atlanta, Mayfield saw time at both guard early on and tackle later on, looking to make the team as a swing tackle. Unfortunately, his pass protection struggles continued mightily throughout training camp and preseason, and a player the Falcons invested a lot of hope and development time into simply didn’t work out, marking the first major draft miss for Terry Fontenot’s front office. We’ll see if another team scoops him up and tries again, but we do wish Mayfield well wherever he lands.
With Mayfield’s early exit from the swing tackle picture, it’s down to Barry Wesley (a longshot, given that he played with third-stringers in the third preseason game), Tyler Vrabel, and Josh Miles. I’d bet on Miles holding on to that spot for the moment, but the team could look into veterans like the recently released Dennis Kelly for a potential upgrade for the critical role.
Scott, Ellis, and Austin all joined a little later in the summer, and none of them managed to get a long look with the top reserves during their time here. All three will get a head start on finding a new team with these early releases, and as is the case with Mayfield, we hope they find new teams soon.
Expect more cuts to roll in soon, as the Falcons will likely do this in chunks ahead of Tuesday’s deadline.