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Atlanta Falcons release QB Marcus Mariota

From the moment Marcus Mariota stepped away from the Atlanta Falcons following their Week 13 loss to Pittsburgh, the quarterback was as good as gone. On Tuesday, the Falcons made that process official by releasing the 29-year-old Honolulu native from his contract.

Cutting Mariota loose saves the Falcons $12 million in cap space, giving them the second-most room to spend in the NFL at nearly $65 million. Perhaps the best part, aside from the cap savings, is that the Falcons still have a possible QB of the future on the roster with 2022 third-round pick Desmond Ridder.

Now Mariota gets the chance to enter free agency earlier than most this season. But, unlike last time, when he was able to secure a starting role by signing with Arthur Smith’s team, who coached him in Tennessee, he’s likely looking at a backup opportunity next season.

But there should be plenty of teams willing to give the former No. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft another chance. He’s a mobile QB who doesn’t turn the ball over often, two traits coaches love.

Mariota has appeared in 87 games in his eight-year career, starting 74 of them. After beginning with Tennessee, then signing with Las Vegas for two years operating as Derek Carr‘s backup, Mariota could now be set to join a fourth team.

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2023: From 1-400, Derek Carr, Bobby Wagner join growing market