Falcons cut 2 players clearing cap space ahead of Matt Ryan's deal

The Atlanta Falcons continued to clear cap space on Friday by releasing tight end Levine Toilolo and defensive end Derrick Shelby.

The two moves clear $6.75 million for the 2018 salary cap. The Falcons are roughly $20 million under the cap before the NFL Draft's projected cap hits, according to Spotrac.

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The Falcons have been transparent about their efforts in extending quarterback Matt Ryan's contract, calling it their highest priority. The 2016 NFL MVP is in the final year of his deal.

Toilolo was primarily a blocking tight-end for the Falcons. He was drafted by Atlanta in the fourth round of the 2013 Draft. He had 723 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in his five-year career. His departure clears $3.5 million in cap space.

After reports surfaced on Friday that the Falcons were also cutting Shelby, the team made it official later that evening. The six-year veteran was going into the second year of his four-year, $18 million contract. The move frees $3.25 million in cap space. Shelby suffered an Achilles injury in 2016. He had 30 combined tackles in 16 games in 2017.

The moves come after Dimitroff said he expects defensive tackle Dontari Poe, wide receiver Taylor Gabriel and Kemal Ishmael to sign deals in free agency, signaling their likely departure from Atlanta.