Longtime Falcons offensive lineman Justin Blalock won’t be back with the team for the 2015 season — at least not on his current contract. The club has parted ways with Blalock, releasing him with two years left on his deal, Jay Adams of AtlantaFalcons.com confirmed today (via Twitter).
The decision to cut Blalock is a little surprising, since the 31-year-old has been a mainstay at the left guard spot in Atlanta since entering the league in 2007, having started all 125 games he has played during his career with the Falcons. Additionally, the former second-round pick continues to be an above-average guard, according to Pro Football Focus — Blalock has received positive grades from the site for each of the last five seasons (subscription required).
Still, Blalock was on track to have the third-highest cap number on the Falcons’ roster, and that $7.91MM figure would also have placed him among the highest-paid guards in the NFL. The veteran will turn 32 later this year, and may not have been an ideal fit for the new coaches in Atlanta, who have decided to go in a different direction — likely a younger, cheaper direction.
Blalock will continue to count against the Falcons’ cap for $4.12MM in dead money for 2015, creating $3.79MM in cap savings. As a vested veteran, he also becomes a free agent immediately, without clearing waivers, and I expect he’ll draw some interest on the open market from teams looking for a short-term or stopgap solution on the interior offensive line.