The Atlanta Falcons announced the releases of safety William Moore and linebacker Justin Durant today. Moore was one of the team’s longest tenured players, having been a second-round pick in 2009. Durant was added to the roster last year as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys, spending one injury-marred season with the Falcons.
Moore also dealt with injuries in 2015, missing five games before landing on the injured reserve with an ankle injury in December. He finished the year with 11 games started, tallying 51 tackles and a pair of interceptions. Moore has battled injuries throughout his NFL career, missing the majority of 2009 and 2014 with various injuries and also missing four games each in 2011 and 2012.
Moore’s hard-hitting defensive style and knack for making opportunistic plays made him a fan favorite in Atlanta. In total, Moore started 72 games for the Falcons over the past seven seasons, recording 362 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 16 interceptions, 11 forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries. Moore finishes his Falcon career tied for 11th on the team’s all-time list for interceptions and third for forced fumbles.
Moore is set to turn 31 in May and was to carry a cap hit of nearly $6.5 million in 2016. His release should prompt savings of roughly $3.2 million towards the Falcons salary cap according to Over the Cap.
Durant, 31, was signed to a three-year contract on the opening day of free agency last March. He missed three games this past season with an elbow injury. He finished the year with 82 tackles and a forced fumble. Prior to joining the Falcons, Durant had two injury-plagued seasons with the Cowboys, missing a total of 16 games over 2013 and 2014 and finishing both years on injured reserve. Prior to that, he spent two years with the Detroit Lions after four years with the team that drafted him, the Jacksonville Jaguars. Durant was originally a second-round pick of the Jaguars in 2007 out of Hampton University.
Durant was expected to add much-needed veteran leadership and playmaking ability at weak-side linebacker in 2015, but was underwhelming thanks to injuries, missed tackles, blown coverages and a general lack of big plays. He was especially bad in the team’s regular-season finale against the New Orleans Saints.
The guaranteed portion of Durant’s contract only applied to the first year, meaning that the Falcons can free up roughly $2.35 million in cap space this year by releasing him per Over the Cap. He was set to count slightly less than $3.2 million against the team’s salary cap in 2016.
These two releases open up immediate holes for the Falcons at weak-side linebacker and strong safety.