Falcons release Ricardo Allen, Allen Bailey for salary-cap relief

120620 ATLANTA: Atlanta Falcons safety Ricardo Allen can���t hold on to what appeared to be a sure interception of New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill during the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)
120620 ATLANTA: Atlanta Falcons safety Ricardo Allen can���t hold on to what appeared to be a sure interception of New Orleans Saints quarterback Taysom Hill during the first quarter Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. (Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@ajc.com)

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

In anticipated salary-cap moves, the Falcons released safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey on Thursday.

Cutting Allen saves the Falcons $6.25 million under the salary cap and Bailey saves $4.5 million. ESPN originally reported the cuts, and the team later confirmed, along with news of the release of quarterback Kurt Benkert.

In 2020, Allen lost his starting job, and the Falcons were trying to use him in three-safety alignments. He returned to the starting lineup after Damontae Kazee went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.

After the season-ending 44-27 loss to Tampa Bay, Allen knew he was in jeopardy after seven seasons with the franchise.

“I would love to keep playing,” Allen said. “That’s my thing. If I can go and fight for the Falcons, this is my team, this is where I’ve been the last seven years. If that’s not the case, if I end up going somewhere else, I can make an opportunity. I can pick my choices if I still want to play as a player. I do think for purpose, I just don’t do things for money.”

In 2018, Allen signed a three-year extension worth $19.5 million that was to run through the 2021 season. He collected $13.25 million of the deal.

“I’m a smart player, I do pretty good with my money, so I put myself in pretty good opportunities,” Allen said. “I’m not afraid of the future ever.”

After being selected in the fifth round (147th overall) of the 2014 NFL draft as a cornerback, Allen was waived. The Purdue product was re-signed to the practice squad. He eventually made the roster and was converted to free safety under coach Dan Quinn in 2015.

Allen started 76 of the 77 games he’s appeared in.

In a contract restructure last year, Bailey signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal that included a $3.25 million signing bonus.

Bailey, 32, is from Sapelo Island and played at McIntosh County Academy and at Miami. As a high school senior, he was a member of the AJC’s Super 11 in 2006.

He was drafted in the third round (86th overall) of the 2011 draft.

Before the 2019 season, Bailey had spent his entire career with the Chiefs. He’s played in 133 NFL games and has made 70 starts.

Bailey, who has 22 career sacks, was more of a run-stuffing defensive end. He played in 16 games and made four starts for the Falcons last season. He finished with 15 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

With the release of Benkert, Matt Ryan is the only quarterback on the roster.

Falcons’ 2021 draft position: In the Cincinnati Bengals media mock draft, writer Geoff Hobson pays tribute to former Yahoo Sports writer Terez Paylor, who died in his sleep Feb. 8. D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution selected Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields for the Falcons with the fourth overall pick and Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah in the second round.

Top five picks

1. Jacksonville Jaguars - Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson

2. New York Jets - Ja’ Marr Chase, WR, LSU

3. Miami Dolphins (via Houston) - DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama

4. Falcons - Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

5. Cincinnati Bengals - Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon

SECOND ROUND

35. Falcons - ILB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

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