The Atlanta Falcons made 40 roster moves this weekend, trimming their roster to 52 players and leaving one spot open to reach the 53-man limit. Here's a closer look at the final cuts:
Most significant move: Based strictly on draft position, former 2017 fourth-round draft pick Sean Harlow would be the one who stands out. But Harlow never played in a regular-season game and never showed much in practice, although he could be a practice-squad player. Speedy wide receiver Reggie Davis, from Georgia, had a chance to stick as the seventh wide receiver and special-teams contributor, but he had a poor showing in the final preseason game, which probably kept him off the roster. The Falcons wouldn't reveal what position they are targeting with the 53rd and final roster spot, although coach Dan Quinn indicated they are already looking at players to fill the void. Overall, Quinn said he felt good about the roster with the 37 returning players and 15 newcomers.
Safety net: The Falcons traded a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2020 for New England Patriots strong safety Jordan Richards, who is expected to be an immediate contributor on special teams. Word is Richards is a great locker room guy as well, but folks out of New England questioned his ability to play defense. The Falcons like what he offers as a backup to starter Keanu Neal, so we'll see what the Falcons get out of Richards. While the Falcons added Richards, they cut ties with veteran Ron Parker, who was getting a audition at free safety, cornerback, and nickel, but was listed as Neal's backup at strong safety. The safeties on the roster are starters Neal and Ricardo Allen, preseason star Damontae Kazee, and Richards. The Falcons plan to use the playmaking Kazee in some packages.
Undrafted rookies: Offensive lineman Matt Gono and linebacker Richard Jarvis both made the roster as undrafted rookies. Gono, who played at Division III Wesley College, showed versatility in playing both right and left tackle and could battle veteran Ty Sambrailo to become the team's swing tackle. Jarvis, from Brown, joins rookie sixth-round draft pick Foyesade Oluokun (Yale) as an Ivy League player. Jarvis could contribute on special teams immediately, provided he remains on the 53-man roster. The Falcons have 10 defensive backs and six linebackers, keeping mindful of special teams with the new kickoff rules and the need for faster, longer players in the mix.
On the line: The Falcons kept Justin Zimmer, from Division II Ferris State, as the ninth defensive lineman. Zimmer, who is expected to give Atlanta depth on the interior of the defensive line, previously spent time with the Buffalo Bills and New Orleans Saints, although he has yet to play in a regular-season game. He has some pass-rush skills and showed relentless effort in preseason, where he recorded 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, and two quarterback hits.
Falcons moves: Released: QB Kurt Benkert, WR Christian Blake, FS Marcelis Branch, T Daniel Brunskill, DB Deante Burton, WR Dontez Byrd, LB Jonathan Celestin, DE Mackendy Cheridor, DB Secdrick Cooper, RB Justin Crawford, DT Jon Cunningham, WR Reggie Davis, G Jamil Douglas, LB Emmanuel Ellerbee, FB Jalston Fowler, TE Jaeden Graham, S Tyson Graham, TE Alex Gray, WR Devin Gray, QB Garrett Grayson, G Sean Harlow, C J.C. Hassenauer, DE J.T. Jones, WR Lamar Jordan, DB Chris Lammons, RB Terrence Magee, TE Troy Mangen, K David Marvin, DB Ryan Neal, S Ron Parker, T Austin Pasztor, LB Emmanuel Smith, DT Garrison Smith, K Giorgio Tavecchio, DT Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, G Salesi Uhatafe, WR Julian Williams, LB Anthony Winbush; Waived/injured: RB Malik Williams; Injury settlement: CB Leon McFadden.