Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has been considerably active this offseason, yet few moves have surprised so far.
Fans were undoubtedly shocked at the termination of John Abraham's contract in a cap-clearing package release that included struggling veterans Dunta Robinson and Michael Turner.
In the wake of clearing the extra cap space leftover from those contracts, Dimitroff went out and signed Steven Jackson, Osi Umenyiora and Tony Gonzalez.
After the dust settled and Brent Grimes, Chris Owens and Will Svitek secured contracts in other towns, Atlanta was sitting with roughly $2.4 million left in salary cap room.
The major offseason moves appeared to be over for Dimitroff, but news broke Thursday morning that the Falcons are planning to part ways with tenured right tackle Tyson Clabo.
With Todd McClure retiring, Clabo was set to be the most battle-tested member of the offensive line. His release certainly means that the Falcons are desperate to make one more free-agent signing. Lead editor of The Falcoholic, Dave Choate, seemed confident in that insinuation.
You also don't make this move if you're not planning to use that money. Something is afoot, Falcons fans.— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) April 4, 2013
They also must feel pretty confident about their remaining options at tackle. Lamar Holmes is the next man in waiting.
Holmes (6'6", 323 lbs.) will enter his second season after being selected in the third round out of Southern Miss in last year's draft.
Offensive lineman now become a higher priority in the draft. Here is the likely starting depth on the front line.
- Left tackle: Sam Baker
- Left guard: Justin Balock
- Center: Peter Konz, Joe Hawley
- Right guard: Garrett Reynolds
- Right tackle: Lamar Holmes
As far as the money is concerned, Clabo's release frees up about $900,000 in current expenses. As well, following June 1st, that number will jump to $4.5 million.
That's a significant amount of cash, which could possibly go towards one more major free-agent signing. Cornerback seems to be Atlanta's biggest concern after the signing of Umenyiora.
Antoine Winfield, Quentin Jammer, Mike Jenkins, Sheldon Brown, Rashean Mathis, Terrance McGee and Marcus Trufant are notable names remaining in the market for the position.
Trufant's younger brother, Desmond, has been a popular pick to be the Falcons' first draft selection at No. 30.
(Here's Featured Columnist Scott Carasik's recent evaluation of Trufant.)
Trufant (Washington), as well as Cornelius 'Tank' Carradine (Florida State) have worked out with the Falcons and are the most popular first-round choices among draft projections.
ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. has the Falcons selecting Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long, but the notion that Atlanta would release a tenured starter like Clabo, only to use its top draft pick to replace that hole, seems pretty absurd.
Atlanta should also take note that Abraham, who has visited with three teams with no contract to this point, is losing numbers on his value each day he goes unsigned.
If Dimitroff can pull Abraham back with a more modest number than what got him released in the first place, Atlanta fans will certainly rejoice.
Fans need to keep their eyes peeled for one more big-name signing, whether it's after the draft or not. A new contract for quarterback Matt Ryan will actually include a lower cap hit for the 2013 season, which means even more cash will be freed up on top of the pickup from Clabo's release.
Right now it appears the Falcons are poised to make one more major free-agent acquisition, which will most likely be at cornerback or possibly at linebacker. They also could still find a way to bring back John Abraham to add depth and a rotation that will include a rookie defensive lineman, which is inevitable at this point.
It's difficult to see Clabo go, but the release only means that another storm front is likely to come from the offices at Flowery Branch.
Mike Foster is an Atlanta Falcons and NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter for news and analysis!
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