ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons released defensive end Derrick Shelby on Friday and announced plans to release tight end Levine Toilolo.
The moves will save the team a combined $6.75 million in cap space. The cost-cutting moves could help the Falcons reach a new deal with quarterback Matt Ryan, who can be a free agent after the 2018 season.
Shelby, who signed a four-year, $18 million deal in 2016, with $7.5 million guaranteed, was set to earn $4.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
The Falcons will save $3.25 million in cap space with Shelby’s release and $3.5 million with Toilolo’s release. The team will still have a $2.5 million charge in dead money for Shelby and $2 million for Toilolo that will count against the cap.
Shelby, who turns 29 on Sunday, had 30 tackles and one sack in 2017. He started 14 games. An Achilles tendon injury limited him to six games in 2016.
He spent his first four seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
The Falcons said Toilolo will be released at the start of the new league year on March 14 with a post-June 1 designation.
Toilolo, a fourth-round pick in 2013, had 74 receptions for 723 yards and seven touchdowns in five seasons. He had 11 catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns in 2017 while sharing time with Austin Hooper and Eric Saubert.