The 30-year-old defender’s four-year deal already paid out most of its guarantees, and Alford was scheduled to carry a $9.1MM cap figure in 2019. The Falcons will be tagged with just $1.2MM in dead money.
This move will create $7.9MM in cap space for the Falcons, who entered Tuesday with barely $14MM to spend.
Cutting Alford still will sever ties with one of Atlanta’s longest-tenured players. The Southeastern Louisiana success story had been a Falcons starting corner since the 2014 season, a year after the team selected him in the second round of the 2013 draft. Alford went on to start 76 games, five playoff contests — including a Super Bowl LI duel that saw him return a Tom Brady interception 82 yards for a touchdown.
The Falcons drafted Isaiah Oliver in the 2018 second round, and the Colorado product profiles as the player being groomed to start alongside Desmond Trufant. Oliver saw only 240 snaps of action as a rookie, but he graded better than Alford did last season. Pro Football Focus viewed Alford’s sixth season as his worst in years, tabbing him as one of the league’s most ineffective corners. That said, he should still receive another opportunity soon.
In becoming a street free agent, Alford now has a head start on the cornerback market. While teams eyeing the top UFA corners may stay away, others believing a mid-level addition can help would profile as those who stand to be interested.
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