FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons started their youth movement Friday by ditching three key players from the most successful era in franchise history.
The Falcons released running back Michael Turner, defensive end John Abraham and cornerback Dunta Robinson, moves that were not unexpected given their age (all in their 30s) and hefty salaries.
Still, it was a stunning start to Atlanta’s offseason makeover, especially for a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl, losing to San Francisco in a thrilling NFC championship game. In one swoop, the Falcons let go their top rusher, their leader in sacks, and a starter in the secondary.
“As a football coach it is never easy to cut any player, especially veteran players who have been valuable members of the organization,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “The guys we released today have contributed to the success that we have had over the last five years, and we greatly appreciate their efforts.”
The moves free up about $16 million in salary cap space, money that general manager Thomas Dimitroff intends to use to build a younger roster. Last year, the Falcons were one of the oldest teams in the league.
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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.