After not finding a trade partner, the Falcons cut Trufant, who’s been the team’s No. 1 cornerback since being drafted in the first round (22nd overall) in 2013.
Trufant, 29, who went to the Pro Bowl after the 2015 season, has made 97 starts for the Falcons.
The Falcons waited until the new collective bargaining agreement was passed to make their salary cap casualty cuts. The deal was ratified Sunday by the NFLPA.
The Falcons can spread their salary cap dead money over two seasons with a post-June 1 designation.
Trufant, who played just nine games last season after breaking his forearm, has the fourth-largest salary cap number ($15.1 million) on the team behind quarterback Matt Ryan ($24.1 million), wide receiver Julio Jones ($20.4 million) and left tackle Jake Matthews ($16 million). The Falcons receive $4.95 million in cap relief by cutting Trufant and giving him a post-June 1 designation.
When Trufant was injured last season, Blidi Wreh-Wilson started at left cornerback but he became an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday.
The Falcons were impressed with rookie cornerback Kendall Sheffield, who played in the slot. Second-year cornerback Isaiah Oliver had a bumpy year as a first-time starter at right cornerback while trying to replace Robert Alford.
Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris sang the praises of Trufant last week.
“He came on last year and probably had one of his more productive seasons,” Morris said. “Grabbing four picks ... he had two in one game and two in another. He played well.”
New secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. also had nice things to say about Trufant.
“I thought he was having a good year, too,” Whitt said. “When I put on the film and started evaluating game 1, Tru did a good job of getting his hands on people early. Just like I was saying Isaiah wasn’t doing early in the year, but Tru was. Tru, I had him in the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago. He’s a great kid and ... has a lot of good football in front of him.”
Here’s a look at where things stand with the Falcons’ potential unrestricted and restricted free agents:
Kenjon Barner, running back
Matt Schaub, quarterback – Club picked up his option, according to his agent.
Justin Hardy, wide receiver - Will not re-sign with team
Austin Hooper, tight end – Will be allowed to hit the market. Has agreed to terms with the Browns.
Matt Simms, quarterback
Keith Smith, fullback – Was re-signed to a three-year deal on Saturday, March 14
Wes Schweitzer, offensive guard/center – Will be allowed to hit the market. Set to sign with Washington
Ty Sambrailo, tackle - Released by the team on March 16
Devonta Freeman - Cut by the team on March 17
Luke Stocker, tight end - To be released pending a physical
Dante Fowler Jr, defensive end -- Agreed to deal with the Falcons
Vic Beasley, defensive end/linebacker – Will not be re-signed. Will join Titans on a one-year deal
De'Vondre Campbell, linebacker – Will be allowed to hit the market
Adrian Clayborn, defensive end
Jack Crawford, defensive tackle
Johnathan Cyprien, safety
Tyeler Davison, defensive tackle - Agrees to three-year deal
Ra'Shede Hageman, defensive tackle – Waived by the team on Jan. 13
Kemal Ishmael, safety/linebacker – Will not be re-signed by Falcons
Steven Means, defensive end - Re-signed to a one-year contract on March 9
Sharrod Neasman, safety
Jamar Taylor, cornerback
John Wetzel, offensive lineman – Vested veteran contract terminated and then re-signed.
J.J. Wilcox, safety
Blidi Wreh-Wilson, cornerback
Desmond Trufant - Released by team, will sign with Lions
Matt Bosher, punter
Ryan Allen, punter – Signed to a one-year contract extension for $945,000 on Feb. 18
Sam Irwin-Hill, punter – Signed to a one-year contract worth $510,000
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Brian Hill, running back - Falcons place tender
Michael Bennett, defensive tackle
Younghoe Koo, placekicker – Signed a one-year contract extension for $660,000 on Feb. 18.
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