Falcons Reduce Roster to 53; Hageman Put on Exempt List

Brett Davis-USA TODAY SportsRa'Shede Hageman

The Atlanta Falcons announced today several moves to get their roster down to 53 players, including placing defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman on the Commisioner’s Exempt List, essentially suspending him indefinitely from the team. The Falcons made several cuts yesterday and made the remainder today to get down to the league’s mandated 53-man limit by 4 p.m. Eastern. In addition to Hageman, the Falcons cut 13 players, placing four others on injured reserve and added cornerback Jalen Collins to the reserve/suspended list.

The Falcons waived the following: safety Marcelis Branch, offensive tackle Daniel Brunskill, wide receivers Deante Burton, Reggie Davis and Marvin Hall, center Cornelius Edison, defensive ends J.T. Jones and Chris Odom, tight end Josh Perkins, running back Jhurell Pressley and defensive tackles Tani Tupou and Joe Vellano. The Falcons also reached an injury settlement with tight end Darion Griswold.

The Falcons placed safety Quincy Mauger on injured reserve and waived/injured defensive end Martin Ifedi, linebacker Josh Keyes and quarterback Matt Simms. Should the latter three clear waivers, they will go on injured reserve. Mauger suffered a knee injury in the team’s preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Davis finished second on the team behind Hall with 126 receiving yards on eight catches. Hall led the team with 151 yards on eight receptions. But the team opted to keep veteran Nick Williams as the sixth wide receiver on the depth chart, after catching five passes for 39 yards during the preseason. Williams first joined the Falcons prior to the 2015 season and has caught 22 passes in 16 total regular-season appearances since.

Branch, Brunskill, Burton, Jones and Odom, like Davis, were fellow undrafted rookies signed by the team following this past April’s draft. Odom had a breakout performance in the team’s preseason finale against the Jaguars, totaling eight tackles, a sack and a pass deflection that resulted in an interception.

Perkins and Vellano were the only cuts made by the team that spent time on the Falcons roster in 2016. Perkins made the team’s roster as an undrafted rookie a year ago, catching three passes and a touchdown in eight appearances last year following the season-ending injury to tight end Jacob Tamme.

Vellano’s only action of 2016 came in the team’s Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

Collins was handed a 10-game suspension for a second violation of the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy earlier this summer. He was exempted from counting towards the team’s 90-man roster since then.

Hageman’s status is a lot murkier given his placmeent on the Commissioner’s Exempt List. An explanation of which can be read from the league’s player conduct policy guidelines:

The Exempt List is a special player status available to clubs only in unusual circumstances. The List includes those players who have been declared by the Commissioner to be temporarily exempt from counting within the Active List limit. Only the Commissioner has the authority to place a player on the Exempt List; clubs have no such authority, and no exemption, regardless of circumstances, is automatic. The Commissioner also has the authority to determine in advance whether a player’s time on the Exempt List will be finite or will continue until the Commissioner deems the exemption should be lifted and the player returned to the Active List.

The exempt list has been mostly used by the league in regards to players that are involved domestic violence situations. The league used it prior in the 2014 season in regards to former Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy as well as former New York Giants kicker Josh Brown. The league also placed former Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson on the list when he was dealing with child abuse situation.

Hageman was charged with misdemeanor battery, cruelty to children and interfering with calls for emergency assistant in March 2016, which first came to light last September. Hageman was involved in an incident in which he was alleged to have assaulted the mother of his child, Janeal Jefferies, in front of their son before grabbing her phone and pulling the line out of the wall when she attempted to call 911.

Reports indicate that his legal issues were adjudicated last month, which the AJC indicated that he pled guilty to an unspecified misdemeanor.

In light of incidents involving Hardy and former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice back in 2014, the league revised its personal conduct policy in regards domestic violence cases. The policy states that a six-game suspension can be meted upon a player’s first offense and a lifetime ban can occur on the second. With Hageman’s case now adjudicated, he is open to a suspension as the league continues to gather its own evidence.

The Falcons will be able to begin establishing a 10-man practice squad beginning tomorrow. Several of the players release over the past 24 hours will likely make up the majority of the group.

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Aaron Freeman

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