Falcons team reporter Kelsey Conway summed it all up in one tweet for the fans.
Last month the Falcons Twitter reported Vic Beasley was released and a fan had replied “source?” to the tweet. The Falcons Twitter replied “Literally us. The Falcons.” The conversation went trending. This tweet regarding Desmond Trufant being released could be a spin-off of that since the Falcons actually included ESPN’s Tom Pelissero.
Trufant, 29, was drafted by the Falcons as their first-round pick (22nd overall) out of the University of Washington in the 2013 NFL Draft. He spent seven seasons with the Falcons and started 97 games while recorded 13 interceptions and 329 tackles.
Trufant earned his first Pro Bowl in 2015 and in 2017 he was rewarded with a five-year contract extension. Trufant suffered a few seasons ending injuries during his tenure in Atlanta and finished both the 2016 and 2019 seasons on injured reserve.
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Rookies Outdid Him
Sambrailo, 28, joined the Falcons at the start of the 2017 season after Atlanta traded a fifth-round draft pick to the Denver Broncos to acquire him. During his three seasons as a Falcon, Sambrailo appeared in 44 games with 13 being in 2019 and he made six starts.
The Falcons signed Sambrailo to a three-year extension after 2018 and expected him to compete for a spot on the defensive line through offseason, but rookies outdid him.
Sambrailo finished his time with the Falcons on good not. His biggest highlight in Atlanta came in his final game. Early in the first quarter of the Falcons’ 28-22 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sambrailo caught a 35-yard touchdown pass to give the Falcons an early lead.
Not a bad ending but he should have performed well all season, not just one game.
Saving Cap Space
Letting Freeman go will give the Falcons spending room elsewhere.
Freeman had three years left on his contract extension worth $41.25 million and no guarantees remaining. The Falcons’ decision to release Freeman’s would clear out $3.5 million in their 2020 cap space.
As of 2019, Freeman has rushed for a total of 3,972 yards averaging 4.2 rushing yards per game. He has scored 32 touchdowns so far with 2,015 receiving yards and 257 receptions.
Freeman was drafted by the Falcons in the fourth round (103rd overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft. In 2017 the Falcons signed Freeman to a five-year, $41.25 million contract extension with Atlanta and became the highest-paid running back in the NFL. Freeman missed all but two games during the 2018 season due to a groin injury. As for last season, he finished with a career-low yard per carry, which could be another reason the Falcons are considering taking a new direction.
Freeman will end up in a good spot wherever he goes, but he might not get the same money deal as he did with the Falcons.
Ultimately, all of these cuts combined will save Falcons cap space $11.6 million in 2020 to spend on the NFL Draft and free agency.