- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Atlanta Falcons, fresh of their first loss of the season, pulled a bit of a surprise Monday night.
The team announced Monday night that it has released defensive end Ray Edwards.
But, when you stop and think about it, the move isn’t all that stunning and the Falcons may have been sending a message -- you have to produce to stick around -- to all their players by releasing Edwards.
Although he was their marquee free-agent signing in 2011, Edwards never produced the way the Falcons envisioned. Although he was viewed as the perfect complement to John Abraham in the pass rush, Edwards produced just 3.5 sacks last season.
This season, he lost his starting job to Kroy Biermann and had been used only as a situational backup in recent weeks. Through nine games, Edwards had just nine tackles and no sacks.
The Falcons likely will go with Lawrence Sidbury, Cliff Matthews and rookie Jonathan Massaquoi as their backups behind Biermann and Abraham, and a team official indicated Matthews might be the favorite to get the first shot as the top backup.
Edwards was signed to a five-year, $27.5 million contract last year. This season, he was scheduled to earn $3 million in base salary, with $2 million of that guaranteed. The Falcons still will be responsible for $4.5 million in remaining pro-rated bonus money toward the salary cap in 2013, when Edwards had been scheduled to cost them $5.5 million toward the cap.