Posted: 5:10 pm Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Falcons release safety Thomas DeCoud, Tony Gonzalez 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

110801 Flowery Branch - Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud flies to block a ball in a simulated punt drill during the first padded practice at training camp in Flowery Branch on Monday, August 1, 2011. His days with the team could be numbered.    Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

110801 Flowery Branch – Atlanta Falcons safety Thomas DeCoud flys to block a ball in a simulated punt drill during the first padded practice at training camp in Flowery Branch on Monday, August 1, 2011. His days with the team could be numbered. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Free safety Thomas DeCoud, a year after going to the Pro Bowl as an alternate, was released by the Falcons on Tuesday.

The team, in need of Tony Gonzalez’ salary cap space, was also officially released.

“We would like to begin by thanking Tony for his contributions to our organization, community and fan base over the last five seasons,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement released by the team. “There is no doubt that he is the best tight end to ever play the game and will have a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Tony was the consummate professional that led by example. He was one of the hardest working players I have ever been around and has left a lasting impact on this team.

 “This was a decision we had to make with the start of the new League year as we begin retooling our roster for 2014. On behalf of the entire Falcons organization, we wish Tony all the best in his television career and thank him for everything he did for this franchise.”

If Gonzalez decides to come out of retirement, he’d be a free agent and eligible to sign with any team. 

In 2012, DeCoud made the Pro Bowl as an alternate. He replaced Dashon Goldson, who advanced to the Super Bowl when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.

DeCoud, who turns 29 on March 18, led Atlanta with six interceptions and ranked second in the league among safeties in that category. DeCoud’s 89 tackles was fifth on the team.

He was not able to carry that level of performance into the 2013 season.

Last season, DeCoud dropped from being rated as the 64th safety in the league to the 83rd rated safety, by profootballfocus.com. His overall play against the run and in coverage dipped dramatically.

He started 15 games and had 83 tackles and two interceptions.

In 2011, the Falcons re-signed DeCoud to a five-year $17.5 million contract.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff calls them “salary-cap casualties,” and it’s a league-wide practice.

“I believe in the NFL today, so-called cap casualties are an issue for every team unless you’re at the top of the heap with $30 million to $40 million dollars available,” he said. “It’s something that we will get into as we continue to analyze and re-evaluate this roster as it stands.”

The Falcons have already cut veterans Asante Samuel, Stephen Nicholas and Garrett Reynolds. Also, running back Jason Snelling retired after seven seasons in the league.

A major part of DeCoud’s contract was set to become guaranteed on March 15.

Releasing DeCoud, 28, would save the Falcons $3 million.

Last season, DeCoud took to social media to vent his frustrations with this season.

Earlier in the season, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan said DeCoud was in a slump and Nolan hoped that he’d pull out of it.

On his verified Twitter account, @TwentyAte28, DeCoud wrote, “By no means am I sittin here acting like I’m balling’ out there… but if you don’t know those three things I state.. you really have no room talk…” He linked to what appeared to be a journal entry through Instagram that read: “I understand that someone has to be the lightning rod for everyone’s frustration … but if you don’t know the huddle call…. The rules of our defense… or our game plan…you have no clue what’s goin’ on out there… I don’t care how much football you THINK you know…it’s a lot more going on than you can fathom.”

DeCoud was known to appear in all of the open locker room sessions and was more than generous with his time, was selected as the Falcons’ 2012 Good Guy Award winner by the local chapter of Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

The articulate and affable DeCoud always gave thoughtful and helpful responses.

The Good Guy Award is given to a player for his qualities and professional style in helping pro football writers do their jobs.

DeCoud was apart of Dimitroff’s first draft class in 2008. He was selected in the third round (98th overall) out of California.

He starred on special teams as a rookie before starting all 16 games in 2009. He started all 16 games in 2010 and continued to ascending in the league. In 2011, he started 15 of 16 games.

32 comments
ruger357
ruger357

Not too worried about the Saints signing Byrd. They over paid and with their cap issues, the only people on that team is going to be Brees, Byrd, and Graham. They are not done cutting, they have a long way to go to get under the cap and this just makes it worse.


ruger357
ruger357

DeCoud is a sad loss though I knew it would happen. Consummate nice guy, had some good times, but he is a bit small. I wish him the best and hope to continue to see him in the league. He's a good player but he is finesse where we need grit and hard hitting. 

He definitely  wins 'Cutest baby in the NFL' too. 

We got to meet him once and he was super nice, very kind and gentle even to my daughter who nearly tackled him with a hug. Good luck and all the best DeCoud. We will miss you.

TampGator1
TampGator1

"Composed of distinct, meaningful syllables or words;  expressing oneself easily in clear and effective language:"


Now, go back and read the twitter statements by DeCloud and tell me again that he communicated with articulation.  He articulated, with those unclear words, about as well as he covered receivers and/or tackled them in the open field.....which, by the way, he did not do well in any of those two key defensive categories for an NFL safety....in my opinion.  Not sad to see him depart, but the Falcons will sign a more productive safety to replace him.       

ArthurStephens
ArthurStephens

Byrd went to the Saints. Dimitroff, Dimitroff, Dimitroff........ -_-

JSSN
JSSN

Holy crap the Saints signed Jarius Byrd!!!

RangeRover
RangeRover

When I think of a safety one person dominates my thoughts...Ronny Lott.  This team wants to be tougher on defense; they just added toughness by the mere subtraction of DeCoud, quite possibly the meekest safety ever to wear an NFL uniform.



Scamwatcher
Scamwatcher

Release all,of the greedy players if you want. I will never pay another dollar to see these money grubbers play a game.

michaeltheamerican
michaeltheamerican

I love how Ledbetter refers to DeCoud as "articulate" while this was the official quote from DeCoud:  "By no means am I sittin here acting like I’m balling’ out there… but if you don’t know those three things I state.. you really have no room talk…”


I don't have a PHD in English, but I wouldn't say Decoud is articulate.

gfw
gfw

DeCoud is nice guy, and I wish him the best.  He did some good things.  But I can't get out of my memory the too-often getting beat deep, and too-many missed tackles.  We have a non-competitive secondary.  We need to get a lot better, just to compete with Carolina and New Orleans, much less the conference.  So these difficult decisions need to be made.  I wish TD and Smith would make some on the OL.  What I've seen there with their recent moves do not leave me optimistic.  Who thinks Baker and Johnson are going to be dominant offensive linemen?  Anybody?

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

LETS GO FALCONS SIGH MORE GUYS TONIGHT , BEFORE THEY ALL GET GONE .

reallygroovy
reallygroovy

maybe they resign decloud for a one year deal , cheap , to see with the falcons up front line of scrimmage , he should be better., byrd ,,wants a lot of money the falcons are just trying to get to 500  again from the 4-12 debacle , SIGN TIMTEBOW to back up ryan , because after 65 sacks last year and with sam baker on his blind side well , MICHAEL OHER WHERE ARE YOU ?

DarlaLewis
DarlaLewis

Yeah, it's time to move on from Decoud he was an under achiever. Bryd is a long shot, but theirs always the draft and a few guys in free agency who might filll the void.

DavidThead
DavidThead

Hope this means the falcons have come to terms with Byrd

-bigdave-
-bigdave-

greg robinson will wear red and black

-bigdave-
-bigdave-

Best thing heard in about a week

JSSN
JSSN

Go tell tell your parents, the Jubilee has come! Enjoy Edmonton scrub!!!

DCDirtyBird
DCDirtyBird

Chris Clemons likely...can't imagine there is money for Malcolm Jenkins or Mike Mitchell.

DawgGoneIt
DawgGoneIt

Any indication who replaces him? Surely they don't believe Zeke Motta is ready!

RangeRover
RangeRover

@ConfederateFlagBurner  

He's a decent backup, situational guy with a high motor but not for $2.4 million...under a million and he's a keeper at least until he proves it in training camp when compared to the new additions.

JSSN
JSSN

@DCDirtyBird  

The Jets just cleared out a bunch of cap room, if they want Clemons. They need someone with range and who can (gasp) TACKLE!

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@DawgGoneIt I like this kid, but he has to stay healthy and that nasty neck injury he took last year can't be good for his future.

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@kerryb @DavidThead I don't see him signing with the Saints unless they are releasing even more players, but if the Saints get him, God bless. We don't need to be paying a safety 10 mill a year.

DCDirtyBird
DCDirtyBird

Surely TD didn't release Decoud without a decent replacement and we do not have a starting FS on our roster.

DCDirtyBird
DCDirtyBird

Great point....maybe a resign. I just can't think of who they replace him with. Mundy from the Giants?

TheRealJay
TheRealJay

@DCDirtyBird With the bonus set for 3/15 it's entirely possible they released him with out a sure plan B. Plan C will probably the draft.