When the Falcons released defensive end Ray Edwards, they made it clear that it was a decision made because Edwards’ diminished play no longer warranted a spot on the team’s roster.
They didn’t say anything about also wanting to send a message to the rest of the team that neither your name nor your salary guarantee you anything in Atlanta, but it doesn’t seem like they needed to be explicit on that front. The Associated Press spoke to several Falcons players who said Edwards’ departure was a reminder that they were constantly being judged by the coaching staff and front office.
“It’s a wakeup call,” safety Thomas DeCoud said. “The message has been received.”
“It’s scary,” guard Peter Konz said. “It makes you think. But if you do the right things, get the job done on the field, you don’t have to be too worried about it.”
“That’s the way this game goes. You can be replaced,” cornerback Dunta Robinson said. “Ray was a great friend of mine. I hate to see him go. But it’s a business. Things like this are going to happen when it’s a business.”
There were more along the same lines. The fact that the Falcons ate money this year and next to get Edwards off the roster does a good job of selling the notion that you will either produce or be replaced, something the players clearly understand.
Atlanta obviously would like to avoid making personnel mistakes like they made with Edwards, but there are worse outcomes from such a mistake than a case study in why the rest of the players should do everything in their power to keep their production from slipping.