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Getting “HOT” in Atlanta: Falcons shake up roster, Crumpler and Coleman Among Others Released

Things are getting shaky in Hotlanta like a bottle of hot sauce getting prepared to be poured on some meat nowdays as four-time Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler and standout defensive tackle Rod Coleman were among seven players released by the Atlanta Falcons today. This is a start of a new era and Atlanta fans now have to get ready to embrace the new “Birds” in town under coach Mike Smith.

The “artists” formerly known as the “Dirty Birds” also released quarterback Byron Leftwich, the former first-round draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who signed with Atlanta last offseason after getting cut in Jacksonville.

Two starters from the Falcons were also released, as offensive tackle Wayne Gandy and cornerback Lewis Sanders got dropped in to the spacious free agent pool. With many high profile names getting let go of their former teams after many productive years, the free agent waters look filled, as there are now plenty of solid players floating around out there looking to be picked up for service once the March 1st Free Agent date comes around.

Whether they are considered to be big or small “fish”, Atlanta continued the trend and unloaded some hefty contracts of some good players that became underachievers over the past few years because of injuries. Turmoil in Atlanta hurt the ’07 seasons of Leftwich (28), Coleman (31), Crumpler (30), and Gandy (37), but I expect teams to snatch them up quickly and give them another chance to redeem themselves. They may’ve been left off the “hook” for now but they are still attractive “bait” and GM’s will still see them as players who still have enough bite left to “reel” them in as key additions.

“This is a difficult day for the entire organization,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “A number of these players have contributed to this organization on and off the field at a high level and we greatly appreciate their efforts.

“These decisions weren’t easy, but we felt they were necessary to build a team in the long-term best interest of the Falcons and its fans.”

The seven-year veteran out of North Carolina had 42 receptions for 444 yards and five touchdowns in 2007, compared to 56 receptions for 780 yards and eight touchdowns in 2006. For his career, Crumpler has 316 receptions for 4,212 yards and 35 touchdowns for the Falcons who went 4-12 last season.
“As a football coach it is never easy to cut any player, especially veteran players who have been valuable members of the organization,” newly-hired Falcons coach Mike Smith said in a statement.

Coleman made the Pro Bowl in 2005, but had only seven tackles and two sacks in 2007 as he battled injury, eventually being placed on injured reserve on November 20 after playing in only five games. Coleman has 248 tackles and 58 1/2 sacks in nine seasons for Oakland and Atlanta.


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