Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner (33) runs against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter of the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons to Release Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson, and John Abraham

In a move that helps their salary cap immensely but is a bit surprising on some levels, the Atlanta Falcons are slated to release RB Michael Turner, DE John Abrahama, and CB Dunta Robinson later today.

With Turner gone, the rock-toting duties likely fall to young RB Jacquizz Rodgers and/or Jason Snelling. Turner has a lot of miles on the tread there and his most productive days are behind him. He had started his career in San Diego as LaDanian Tomlinson’s backup but was given a big contract by the Falcons 4 years ago to be their “franchise” running back.

In 2012, the Falcons running “attack” was more like harsh language than anything else, ranking 29th overall in the NFL. With production like that, the Falcons figure they can spend less and get the same. At least, give the younger guys a chance. They may also pursue an unrestricted free agent back, like a Steven Jackson or Rashard Mendenhall. Jackson would be like getting a Michael Turner with hands, as he is also on the downslope of his career.

Mendenhall, however, is a younger guy and his style of running fits the Falcons’ blocking scheme better. Time will tell if they’re satisfied with those already in the stable, but it shouldn’t break the bank to add a younger, tough RB that can catch.

In releasing aging John Abraham, the Atlanta Falcons are going all-in on the draft. Abrahama has had a number of injuries affecting his play, so they’re going to shed his contract as well. He’s also the only consistent pass rusher on the defense. With the upcoming NFL Draft being deep in defensive linemen and edge rushers, Atlanta feels they can get an upgrade – or at least healthier bodies – and get the production for less money.

Releasing CB Dunta Robinson is a pretty striahgtforward move as they free up cap space to sign CB Brent Grimes.

Apparently, the team has enough veterans for the locker room remaining for team chemistry, or they wouldn’t be letting these guys go so easily. I can see the Grimes move. I can also see the Turner move – he’s seen his prime. It’s the John Abraham move that is the riskiest one. His issues with his knees aren’t getting better, but they don’t have much of a pass rush threat without him as we saw in the playoffs.

If they’re smart, they’ll grab two different guys to work into passing subpackages and let them compete against each other for playing time, but don’t forget that the Falcons will be drafting near the bottom of the first round. It wouldn’t surprise me much if they target a guy like Margus Hunt, a massive young man from Estonia who runs a 4.60-40 and benched over 30 reps in the weight room but he’s still thought to be a second-rounder.

Perhaps they want Ziggy Ansah or will pick up a guy like Osi Umenyora in free agency, or both. I just think they have to add more than one guy there.

Don’t forget Tony Gonzalez’ retirement. There IS no replacement in the draft for a guy like that.

Follow me on Twitter @Ken_Dye

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Tags: Atlanta Falcons Dunta Robinson John Abraham Michael Turner

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