The Falcons, in a salary cap move, are set to release starting right tackle Tyson Clabo later today.
“We’re really disappointed,” said Clabo, who was notified about the release at 7:30 a.m. Thursday. “This was unexpected.”
The move, which will be announced as a post-June 1 cut, will save the team $4.5 million. The team is currently $2.9 million under the salary cap and are positioning themselves to take on a big contract extension for quarterback Matt Ryan, who could become a free agent after next season without a new deal.
After bumping around the league as an undrafted player from Wake Forest, Clabo broke into the Falcons starting lineup in 2006 under former coach Jim Mora.
Clabo, 31, started out as a right guard, but was moved to right tackle in 2007. He’s been a mainstay, starting 100 regular season games and five playoff games.
“I’ve been with the Falcons for eight years,” said Clabo, who had brief stints with the Denver Broncos and New York Giants before landing with the Falcons. “We’re really disappointed, but at the same time we’re excited about new experiences. We’ll have to see where we go from here. This was definitely unexpected.”
The Falcons are thin at the tackle position. In addition to releasing Clabo, Will Svitek, the backup tackle in 2011, left to sign with New England in free agency. Last season, rookie Lamar Holmes and Mike Johnson were the primary backup tackles. Neither has started a game in the NFL at right tackle. They will likely battle for the vacant starting position.
Clabo, one of the more colorful members of the team, made the Pro Bowl after the 2010 season, when the Falcons claimed the NFC South title.
While, plesant off the field, Clabo was noted for his mean and nasty style of play. He was a regular in several "dirtiest player" in the league polls.
Also, Clabo served as the team's union representative during the lockout of 2011.