FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) _ The Atlanta Falcons released four-time Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler and six other players today in the first step of a major rebuilding job in the post-Michael Vick era.
The Falcons also cut quarterback Byron Leftwich, defensive tackle Rod Coleman, offensive tackle Wayne Gandy, cornerback Lewis Sanders, wide receiver Jamin Elliott and linebacker Marcus Wilkins.
Thje team's new general manager, Thomas Dimitroff, said, "This is a difficult day for the entire organization. A number of these players have contributed to this organization on and off the field at a high level, and we greatly appreciate their efforts.''
None contributed more than Crumpler, one of the team's most respected players and a leader in the locker room. He twice led the Falcons in receptions and had a streak of four straight Pro Bowl appearances from 2003-06.
But Crumpler was plagued by knee problems this past season and dropped off to 44 receptions. Also, he counted $5.1 million against the salary cap for 2008, money the Falcons felt could be better spent elsewhere.