Surprise Cut of Sack Leader Among Falcons Roster Moves
The Atlanta Falcons made a surprise cut on defense among their roster moves on Tuesday.
The Atlanta Falcons were busy again on Tuesday, making a series of roster moves. Among them was a surprise cut of linebacker Jacob Tuioti-Mariner.
Originally an undrafted free agent out of UCLA in 2018, Tuioti-Mariner played in eight games for the Falcons in 2019 before playing in all 16 last season. A defensive tackle at UCLA, he played end in the Falcons 4-3 and was trying to nail down an outside linebacker spot in the Falcons 3-4.
He was actually tied for the team lead with two sacks on the season before being cut on Tuesday.
The Falcons have shown a penchant for cutting players and bringing them back on to the practice squad. Tuioti-Mariner would be a candidate for such a move, but he has a skill set that could make him attractive to another team.
He is a tweener in the Falcons 3-4 scheme, not quite big enough for defensive end, not quite quick enough for outside linebacker, but could find a home as a 4-3 end for another team.
Cornerback Chris Williamson was signed to the 53-man roster in Tuioti-Mariner's place. He had already been flexed from the practice squad twice, so if Atlanta wanted to keep him, they needed to sign him to the active roster.
A similar move occurred last week with outside linebacker James Vaughters. After being promoted to the game-day roster twice by the Falcons, he was signed to the active roster. He had an excellent game in last week's win over the New Orleans Saints which may have prompted the release of Tuioti-Mariner.
Atlanta also cut punter Cam Nizialek. Nizialek was a bit of a redemption story early in the season. He struggled badly against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a loss , but head coach Arthur Smith stuck by him despite signing veteran punter Dustin Colquitt.
Nizialek rewarded his trust with an excellent performance against the New York Giants the following week in which he punted seven times for an average of 47.3 yards and dropped three punts inside the Giants' twenty.
Unfortunately, Nizialek injured his hamstring on a kickoff the following week against the Washington Football Team, and Colquitt has held the job since.
Like Tuioti-Mariner, Nizialek's days in Atlanta may not be over. He is a candidate to return to the practice squad as well.
The Falcons evened their record to 4-4 against the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, and are currently sitting in the final playoff spot in the NFC. They take on the NFC East Division leading Dallas Cowboys on Sunday who are coming off an embarrassing 30-16 loss to the Denver Broncos.