Falcons' Jason Snelling retires

Updated: March 4, 2014, 10:50 PM ET
By Vaughn McClure | ESPN.com

The Atlanta Falcons lost a valuable member of the offensive backfield when running back Jason Snelling abruptly announced his retirement Tuesday.

"I have decided to retire after seven years in the NFL to spend time with my family," Snelling said in a statement. "I want to thank [owner Arthur] Blank, Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith for providing me the opportunity to play for the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are a first class organization run by a first class owner and I am grateful that I got to spend my entire career in Atlanta."

Snelling, 30, was a seventh-round pick of the Falcons in the 2007 NFL draft. The Virginia product had 363 carries for 1,420 yards with eight touchdowns and a career average of 3.9 yards per carry while also compiling 168 receptions for 1,249 yards and nine touchdowns as a receiver out of the backfield.

Snelling was entering the last year of his contract with a cap value of $1,733,334 in 2014. Once he is officially placed on the reserve/retired list, the Falcons save $1.375 million, which was his cash value for 2014.

In 2013, Snelling ran for 164 yards on 44 carries with one touchdown in 14 games. He also added 29 catches for 216 yards and three touchdowns in the passing game.

"Jason was a good teammate and a joy to coach," Smith said in a statement. "He played a number of roles for our team during his time here and was always ready when his number was called. We want to thank Jason for his contributions to our team and we wish him the best in his future endeavors."

Snelling missed one game during the 2013 season following an arrest on misdemeanor drug charges, and the case is still pending. Snelling's case was granted another continuance until March 7. He also dealt with a concussion and sprained ankle last season.

The Falcons are expected to move forward with Steven Jackson as their primary running back with Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith behind. They are likely to draft a speedy back to complement the group.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

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