Falcons cut veterans Freeman, Trufant to clear cap space

NFL

ATLANTA (AP)The Atlanta Falcons will dramatically boost their financial flexibility by releasing two former Pro Bowl players, running back Devonta Freeman and cornerback Desmond Trufant, plus two more veterans.

The Falcons announced on Monday the release of offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo and tight end Luke Stocker.

The team is finalizing the moves with Freeman and Trufant, former foundation players for the franchise. Financial constraints made the moves necessary.

After releasing Stocker and having Austin Hooper closeto an agreement to sign with Cleveland, the Falcons agreed to a deal to acquire tight end Hayden Hurst from the Baltimore Ravens. A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press the Falcons also acquired a 2020 fourth-round pick and sent the Ravens second- and fifth-round picks in this year’s draft.

The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Monday because the trade won’t be officially announced before the NFL’s business year begins Wednesday.

The cuts will clear $14.75 million in salary cap space before Wednesday’s start of free agency. Before the moves, the Falcons ranked 31st in the league with less than $1 million in cap space. Following the cuts and recent moves to re-sign three players who were headed for free agency, the team will have about $9.9 million in cap space.

Freeman, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday, ran for 656 yards and two touchdowns in 2019. The Falcons ranked only 30th in the league in rushing with 85.1 yards per game and now may look for help at running back in free agency and the draft.

Freeman started 14 games last season and hasn’t played a full season since his second Pro Bowl run in 2016, the last year he ran for at least 1,000 yards. He played in only two games in 2018.

The 29-year-old Trufant was a first-round pick in 2013. Trufant started nine games last season before he was placed on injured reserve with a broken forearm. He has 13 interceptions in his seven-year career, including a career-high four last season.

Sambrailo signed a three-year deal before the 2019 season but played in 13 games only as a backup. The Falcons drafted Kaleb McGary last year to start at right tackle, and Jake Matthews is a fixture at left tackle.

The cuts came after the Falcons re-signed three players this month: defensive tackle Tyeler Davison, defensive end Steven Means and fullback Keith Smith. Each would have become free agents.

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