While the remainder of the Atlanta Falcons cuts haven’t been made yet, two have thus far been announced as the team parted ways with quarterbacks Rex Grossman and T.J. Yates. ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported Grossman’s release while WSB-TV’s Zach Klein broke the news on Yates. Their releases leave Sean Renfree as the lone backup behind starting quarterback Matt Ryan.
Grossman was signed by the Falcons little more than a week ago as a fourth option in the bid to be Ryan’s backup. His familiarity with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s system made him a potential favorite to stick on the roster, but he looked rusty and out of shape in his lone preseason action against the Baltimore Ravens last night.
Yates did not play against the Ravens after receiving all the reserve quarterback snaps a week earlier against the Miami Dolphins. In his first two preseason games this summer, Yates was routinely outplayed by Renfree. It came on the heels of last summer when Yates struggled in three out of the four preseason games, before finally playing better in the preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Yates was acquired by the Falcons via trade from the Houston Texans last June when the team wanted to bolster competition behind Ryan. He appeared in one game in 2014, playing mop-up duty in a 56-14 blowout win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yates became a free agent after the season and was re-signed to a one-year deal in March.
Renfree was originally a seventh-round pick of the Falcons in 2013, but missed his rookie season with a shoulder injury. His play last summer prompted the Falcons to keep him as the third quarterback behind Yates. Renfree’s play improved this summer, showing steady improvement each year’s been in the league. However, Renfree has yet to play in a regular-season game giving the Falcons a relatively inexperienced option in the event that Ryan gets hurt.
It’s possible that the Falcons could bring back either passer after Week One to avoid guaranteeing their base salaries in 2015. Any player on a team’s active 53-man roster Week One has their base salary for the season guaranteed. Grossman was due a salary of $970,000 while Yates was set to earn $1.125 million this season. Re-signing Grossman to a minimum salary after the first game would likely lead to him earning roughly $909,000 this season. Yates’ minimum salary could be as low as $698,000.