The Atlanta Falcons announced eight cuts today, reducing their roster to 67 players. They will have to make 14 more moves to get down to the 53-man limit by tomorrow afternoon at 4 p.m. Eastern. In addition to the previous reported releases of quarterbacks Rex Grossman and T.J. Yates, the Falcons waived safety Sean Baker, linebacker Terrell Manning, offensive tackle Jake Rodgers, guard Jared Smith and cornerback Kevin White. The team also released defensive end Cliff Matthews.
Baker first arrived in Atlanta midway through the 2013 on the team’s practice squad after originally entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. Baker finished 2013 on the Falcons’ active roster but was inactive for the final game of the regular season. He once again was added to the practice to start the 2014 season, but was promoted to the roster for a month in October, adding depth at safety and special-teams value. He finished 2014 on the team’s practice squad.
This marks the second time this summer that Manning has been cut by the Falcons, although the first time it’s been officially done. He was initially part of the team’s cuts to get down to the 75-man roster last weekend, but due to the team not filing proper paperwork with the league office, the move was never official. Manning stuck around for a few more days in Atlanta. He first joined the team 18 days ago. The Falcons mark Manning’s eight team since entering ht eleague as a fifth-round pick of the Green Bay Packers in 2012.
Rodgers was a seventh-round pick of the Falcons this past year. He was in the competition for a backup spot at offensive tackle, spending the bulk of his time at left tackle in preseason games. In the preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens last night, Rodgers played right tackle, the position he spent the majority of his collegiate career at Eastern Washington and Washington State playing.
Smith was signed by the Falcons earlier this offseason, as a former draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks back in 2013. Smith played defensive tackle at New Hampshire, but given his athleticism, the Seahawks opted to convert him to the offensive side of the ball as a rookie. He missed his rookie year with an injury and was cut by the Seahawks last summer.
White, a highly-touted prospect out of Texas Christian, fell on draft boards and eventually signed with the Falcons after the draft. White opened the team’s first preseason game against the Tennessee Titans at nickel cornerback, and earned the bulk of the snaps in the slot behind Robert Alford in the last three games.
Matthews was a seventh-round pick of the Falcons in 2011. In four seasons with the team, he played in 32 games with no starts and sacks, but added value as a run-defender and on special teams, where he totaled six tackles. Matthews missed nearly two weeks of training camp practices this summer with an ankle injury, putting him behind the eight ball in the deep competition along the defensive line.
Baker, Manning, Rodgers, Smith and White all remain eligible for the team’s practice squad.