Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE
You can add Ray Edwards to the relatively short list of mistakes made by Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff. But by releasing him, the organization demonstrated just the kind of thinking fans want to see.
To say that Ray Edwards' release on Tuesday was a shock is perhaps an exaggeration.
Sure, the timing - right in the middle of an 8-1 season - is a little unusual.
But that's what makes the move so powerful. It sends a strong, clear statement to the rest of the team: live up to our expectations, or find another home.
Even if you're barely one year removed from signing a five-year, $30M deal with the team.
Dimitroff and Mike Smith both know the pressure is on them to not only make the playoffs again this season, but finally cap off their countless regular season accomplishments with a postseason victory. Everyone knows this, and the media talks about it ad infinitum.
Of course, it's more than just making a statement. The practical side of this equation is twofold.
First, it saves money: about $15M in money owed to Edwards over the next three seasons, actually.
Secondly, the Falcons lose a player that was not living up to expectations in any sense of the world.
Edwards, who had tallied 16.5 sacks in his final two seasons with the Vikings, was an affordable and fitting solution.
After stumbling through his first season in Atlanta - decent performance against the run, but only 3.5 sacks all year - Edwards had failed to record a single sack in 2012.
Coaches blamed Van Gorder's system, adjusting to a new team, injury; you name it.
So what do the Falcons lose by cutting Edwards? Presumably nothing.
They also gain the attention of a locker room, and show everyone that this is no Jerry Jones-run football team where star players can under-perform and still catch a free ride.
To be an Atlanta Falcon, you have to earn it.