The Atlanta Falcons announced 11 more roster moves today in addition to 11 made yesterday to get their roster down to the league-mandated 53-man limit. The Falcons placed three players on injured reserve, reached injury settlements with two, suspended one, and waived five others. The Falcons roster isn’t fully finalized however since they will have another week to make additional moves before the start of the regular season when the team hosts the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 11.
Going on injured reserve will be cornerbacks Akeem King (foot) and DeMarcus Van Dyke (concussion). The team also waived/injured linebacker Tyler Starr with an undisclosed injury. Should Starr clear waivers, he will also be put on the injured reserve list.
The team reached injury settlements with running back Brandon Wilds (knee) and fullback Will Ratelle (ankle).
Cornerback Jalen Collins was placed on the reserve/suspended list and will serve out his four-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs to start the year.
The Falcons also waived defensvie tackle Joey Mbu, wide receiver J.D. McKissic, safety Sharrod Neasman, quarterback Matt Simms and tight end D.J. Tialavea.
King was drafted by the Falcons in the seventh round of the 2015 NFL Draft and played minimal reps as a rookie. But he was expected to compete for the team’s vacant nickel cornerback spot this summer, but quickly lost ground to undrafted rookie Brian Poole, who is likely slated to open the regular season in that role after taking all the first-team reps during the preseason.
Van Dyke was added by the Falcons in March and was also in the mix for the nickel corner role, but suffered an injury and missed three preseason games.
Starr was a seventh-round draft pick of the Falcons in 2014 and did not see any action as a rookie and spent his second season in the NFL mostly on the Falcons practice squad. He did make one appearance, playing on special teams, where he recorded his lone tackle as a professional.
Wilds and Ratelle were both undrafted rookies signed by the Falcons following the 2016 draft. Wilds led the team with 86 rushing yards during the preseason despite missing the finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars due to his injury. Ratelle was cut by the Falcons during their initial cuts this past Tuesday but was re-signed by the team due to their lack of running back depth for the Jaguars game. Ratelle suffered an ankle injury early in the game after making a 15-yard reception.
New rules instituted by the NFL means that players have the potential to re-sign with teams after three weeks instead of the previous six weeks after reaching an injury settlement.
Collins was a second-round pick by the Falcons in 2015 and had a rough rookie season in which he served for a time as the team’s nickel cornerback. With his suspension, it created the vacancy that allowed players such as King, Poole and Van Dyke the opportunity to replace him. It remains to be seen if Collins will be given the nickel duties upon his return from suspension in Week Five.
Mbu was an undrafted rookie signed by the Falcons a year ago, and spent most of his rookie season on the team’s practice squad. He however was elevated to the 53-man roster at the end of the year where he helped add depth at nose tackle thanks to an injury to starter Paul Soliai. He finished with four tackles in two games.
McKissic and Neasman were undrafted rookies signed by the Falcons this past spring. McKissic looked poised to potentially win the vacant return specialist role after the release of Devin Hester earlier this summer. He scored on a 101-yard kickoff return in the preseason opener against the Washington Redskins and also had eight receptions for 79 yards.
Neasman showed versatility by playing both safety positions during the preseason and finished the summer with nine tackles and one pass defended.
Simms was added to the Falcons practice squad last season, where he spent the entire year. He outperformed 2013 seventh-round pick Sean Renfree for the battle for the third quarterback position, but having a third arm on the roster was understandably deemed a luxury by the Falcons. In three appearances, Simms completed 66.7 percent of his 39 pass attempts for 353 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Tialavea was waived/injured to start the 2015 season after suffering a knee injury in the preseason finale against the Baltimore Ravens, but reached an injury settlement shortly thereafter. He was re-signed later in the year as a practice squad and finished the season on the active roster, but did not appear in any games. He was competing for one of the reserve tight end spots and had impressed with his blocking this summer, but the Falcons opted to retain 2013 fourth-round pick Levine Toilolo as their blocking tight end.
Mbu, McKissic, Neasman, Simms and Tialavea should all be eligible to be put on the team’s 10-man practice squad which can begin to be established tomorrow at noon Eastern.
The Falcons are likely to make additional roster decisions between now and the start of the regular season. Last season the Falcons added several players to their offensive line after “final” cuts were made including adding offensive tackle Bryce Harris and center Gino Gradkowski.