Falcons' release of Leonard Hankerson best move for both parties

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- When the Atlanta Falcons made the unusual move of waiving wide receiver Leonard Hankerson off injured reserve, they were looking at their future and his interest in playing sooner rather than later.

Signed as a free agent in March, Hankerson with running back Devonta Freeman as Atlanta’s second-leading receiver was tied through four games with 17 receptions for 241 yards and a pair of scores.

Hankerson’s production began to wane, he had problems hanging onto the ball and was inactive in three of four games in November with a hamstring injury.

He went on injured reserve on Dec. 4 but felt he was healthy enough to play. Usually, a player on injured reserve is stuck there for the duration of the season, having to pass a physical for a team to be allowed to waive him and terminate his contract.

Hankerson felt he was well enough to play and passed a physical, so he and the Falcons parted ways Tuesday.

“Basically, it just came down to he wasn’t going to be a part of our future plans,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said.