FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Ray Edwards was supposed to give the Atlanta Falcons a fearsome pass rush.
Turns out, he wasn't even good enough to stay on the team.
The Falcons released Edwards on Monday evening, a bold move by a first-place team coming off its first loss of the season.
Still, it really wasn't all that surprising given the stunning lack of production by Edwards since signing a five-year, $30 million deal that included $11 million in guaranteed money.
The 27-year-old defensive end provided little help in his first year with the Falcons, and his playing time steadily dwindled this season. He had started just four of nine games, and was credited with nine tackles and no sacks. Kroy Biermann earned the bulk of the playing time at left end, while 34-year-old John Abraham remained the team's most effective rusher.
The Falcons were looking to give some Abraham some help when they signed Edwards shortly after the lockout ended in 2011. He seemed like a solid choice, having been credited with 29½ sacks in five years with the Minnesota Vikings.
"I think me and Abraham are definitely going to be a great tandem," Edwards said at his introductory news conference. "We'll work on playing off each other and causing a lot of havoc."
But, after undergoing knee surgery during the lockout, he struggled to regain full mobility. Edwards had just 3½ sacks in what turned out to be his only full season with the Falcons, far below the production (16½ sacks) in his final two years with the Vikings.
Also, he never seemed to be a good fit in Atlanta's tight-knit locker room, his seemingly lackadaisical attitude summed up by the song booming from his locker on his final morning with the team — Lil Wayne's "No Worries."
He should have been worried. Coach Mike Smith has repeatedly said that every player is evaluated on a weekly basis, no matter how well the team is playing.
On Monday, he backed up those words.