The Atlanta Falcons began the process of reshaping their roster under new general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith.
The team announced the release of safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey on Thursday. Atlanta also waived quarterback Kurt Benkert.
Cutting Allen and Bailey sheds $10.75 million in salary from the Falcons’ salary cap, with $3.75M in dead money. Atlanta is currently projected to be over the salary cap, so the blood-letting is likely not over for Fontenot as he reworks the roster.
A former 2014 fifth-round pick, Allen started 76 games for the Falcons and recorded 340 tackles, 11 interceptions and one sack the past six seasons after spending his rookie campaign on the practice squad. A four-time team captain, Allen was a strong voice in Atlanta’s locker room. In 2019, Allen was named the Falcons’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award. In 2020, the 29-year-old Allen had 25 tackles and two INTs in 12 games played.
Bailey, 31, spent the past two seasons in Atlanta after eight in Kansas City. He played in 31 games with nine starts and recorded 41 tackles, seven quarterback hits and 2.5 sacks.
Benkert has never thrown a regular-season pass. He spent 2018 and 2020 on Atlanta’s practice squad. In 2019, he suffered a preseason toe injury that landed him on IR.
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