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Falcons rebuilding ***********Per PFW**************


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New Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff began making his mark Friday and he slashed the Falcons' roster, cleansing it of several high-profile players as he overhauls the woeful franchise. Atlanta released seven players including TE Alge Crumpler, DT Rod Coleman, QB Byron Leftwich, OLT Wayne Gandy, CB Lewis Sanders, WR Jamin Elliott, and LB Marcus Wilkins. This is a difficult day for the entire organization, Dimitroff said in a statement. 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 PFW spin

There were no real surprises in the bunch nearly every name had been mentioned as a potential cut by PFW and in other reports as Dimitroff and first-year head coach Mike Smith began their tenure in Atlanta. Crumpler, Coleman, Leftwich, and Gandy all made starts for the team last season, but each missed time with injuries as well. Falcons owner Arthur Blank has said the team should have about $23 million in cap space for this rebuilding offseason. The team has glaring holes at quarterback, running back, and offensive tackle and will have either the third, fourth or fifth pick in the first-round of April s draft, pending a coin toss.

A bigger surprise may have been who survived the sweeping cuts. RB Warrick Dunn and WR Joe Horn were two high-paid veterans who figured not to be in the plans for next season, but both remain with the club. With plenty of the offseason remaining, they could still wind up getting released.

The two former Pro Bowlers on the list Crumpler, 30, and Coleman, 31 leave large voids on each side of the ball.

Crumpler, who is the only Falcons tight end to lead the team in receiving yards and receptions for three straight seasons, has a surgically repaired left knee that causes him chronic pain. After appearing in 10 games last season, he had his lowest number of receiving yards (444) in a season since his rookie year (330). Entering 2007, Coleman had the most sacks (44½) of any NFL interior lineman over the previous five seasons. The Falcons are left with a mostly inexperienced and unimpressive crop of defensive tackles, which may lead them toward LSU DT Glenn Dorsey, if he s available when they draft in April.

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