The Atlanta Falcons surprisingly cut DE Ray Edwards on Monday, November 11. Edwards signed a $30 million contract with the Falcons as a free-agent in 2011. He was expected to be the missing piece to compliment Atlanta's standout DE John Abraham, but that never materialized.
Despite the high dollar contract, Edwards role on defense began shrinking in just his second year. Edwards had only started four of nine games. In 2011, it was evident that Edwards was not the sack-artist the Falcons had hoped when he only recorded 3.5 sacks. But even more surprising was how he vanished in the run game. Edwards only accumulated nine tackles in nine games, including only one in his last three games.
Atlanta Falcons DC Mike Nolan had been moving beyond Edwards well before he was cut. Utilizing the more versatile DE Kroy Biermann, Nolan has shown little patience for one-dimensional players. No matter what the price tag may be.
Putting Everyone on Notice
While an unexpected move, the release of Edwards following the loss will serve as a warning to other Falcons players. This was not the intent of the mid-season move, but will work as a wake-up call none the less. The Atlanta Falcons have shown a willingness to move on, no matter how big the paycheck or marquee name.
Michael Turner Might Be On Short Leash
RB Michael Turner may have had his worst outing as a Falcon on Sunday. Once known for carrying defenders before going down, Turner could not even make it to the line of scrimmage when the Falcons needed him most. On goal-line stands, Turner repeatedly ran straight into a wall of black jerseys, only to slide down for a loss.
Turner's physical build is tempting for any offensive coordinator. His massive legs look as though they could propel him through any defensive line, yet, this is no longer the case. Turner is running out of excuses and support.
Center Todd McClure alluded to it when quoted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. McClure was obviously agitated when he said, "You guys are going to write about how bad we are up front and that we can’t get in the end zone. But there’s more to it than just blocking up front, and that’s all I’m going to say about that."
This is the closest any Atlanta Falcon has come to calling out a teammate since the arrival of head coach Mike Smith. If his teammates are losing confidence in him, then Turner's future might be closer to Edwards' than we know.
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