Falcons release two former Gamecocks

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (WACH-AP) -- The Atlanta Falcons have released running back Michael Turner, and former Gamecocks defensive end John Abraham and cornerback Dunta Robinson.

The moves were announced Friday by a team that came up just short of the Super Bowl. The Falcons lost to San Francisco in the NFC championship game.

While not unexpected, the release of Atlanta's top rusher, its leader in sacks, and a starting cornerback is still a stunning start to the offseason.

Coach Mike Smith says "it is never easy to cut any player, especially veteran players who have been valuable members of the organization." He says all three players had key roles in the success of the last five years.

The moves free up about $16 million in salary cap space. The team is hoping to become younger in the offseason.

Abraham played with the Gamecocks from 1996-1999 while Robinson played from 2000-2002.