The Falcons are in a stage of transition.

While the departures of Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson were not entirely surprising, the release of John Abraham was a little startling. Any time you cut a player responsible for 10.0 of the team's 29.0 sacks, it's a gutsy move, and it means that Thomas Dimitroff will need to find an impact pass-rusher with all due haste.

But more than that, it is a move that signifies several things. The Falcons are looking to get younger, of that we can be certain. The team also appears ready to invest in a pass-rusher that can remain on the field on a more consistent basis than Abraham. Playing 70% of the team's defensive snaps does not necessarily justify a $4.5M base salary.

Perhaps most importantly, I see the move as clear evidence that Mike Nolan is preparing to transition Atlanta's defense to his preferred 3-4 scheme. Whether or not that will actually benefit the Falcons in the long term (I believe it will), that seems to be the road Mike Smith is willing to take with Nolan at the helm.