Falcons running back Michael Turner is brought down by 49ers linebacker… (Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images )
The Atlanta Falcons have made the biggest off-season splash to date by dumping three key veterans: defensive end John Abraham, cornerback Dunta Robinson and running back Michael Turner.
The news is not stunning since many NFL teams at this time of year decide which high-salaried veterans to release in an effort to bring in younger, lower-priced talent. The club will save nearly $16 million with the moves
Then again, it's not often you see a pro football team dump its sacks leader, a top-flight defensive back and one of the franchise's greatest running backs.
The 31-year-old Turner rushed for 800 yards last season, the lowest during his five seasons with the Falcons, and scored 10 touchdowns. His workload was cut with the addition of Jacquizz Rodgers, a smaller, more versatile running back. Turner rushed for more than 1,300 yards in a season three times.
“As a football coach it is never easy to cut any player, especially veteran players who have been valuable members of the organization,” said Coach Mike Smith, whose Falcons were 13-3 last season. “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.”
Abraham, 34, led the team with 10 sacks, but the Falcons cut back on the number of snaps he took in an effort to keep him healthy. He had 68 1/2 sacks in his six seasons with Atlanta.
Robinson, 30, was a stabilizing force in the secondary since joining the Falcons in 2010. He was known primarily for his big hits.
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