Falcons release Turner, Abraham; new deal for Flacco

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NEW YORK – The free agency frenzy doesn’t begin until March 12.


Tell that to general managers who have begun flooding the market with veterans they have cut – guys who can sign with any team at any time.


Joining that group Friday were such former Pro Bowl players John Abraham and Michael Turner, released by Atlanta along with cornerback Dunta Robinson.


Also available is 2009 Defensive Player of the Year Charles Woodson; the Green Bay Packers let the defensive back go last month.


While players whose contracts have expired can’t change addresses for another 11 days, the so-called “street free agents” now out there can joins teams immediately. That’s already happened with former Buffalo safety George Wilson, who signed with the Titans, and it certainly could occur again before the likes of Mike Wallace, Jake Long, Reggie Bush and Greg Jennings on offense or Dwight Freeney, Anthony Spencer, Paul Kruger and Cliff Avril on defense become available.


Wilson was coveted by Tennessee for reasons that stretch beyond the field, and Woodson also could fall into that category. Listen to what Titans general manager Ruston Webster says about Wilson, who twice was Buffalo’s Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee:


“George is a quality veteran player. He will contribute for us on the field, but his contributions also will come off the field, in the locker room and in the meetings rooms. He was respected as a football player and a leader during his career in Buffalo, and he will bring that veteran presence to our team.”


Source: New deal for Flacco: The franchise tag for quarterbacks in 2013 will be $14.896 million.


But the Baltimore Ravens no longer need worry about it because Joe Flacco agreed to a new deal with them Friday.


The NFL set the franchise tag at that figure earlier in the day. Then the Ravens prevented the Super Bowl MVP from reaching free agency beginning March 12 when, according to a person with knowledge of the contract, they reached a new deal with Flacco.


Flacco played out his five-year rookie contract, making $6.76 million, and led the Ravens to the Super Bowl title.


Terms of Flacco’s new agreement were not immediately available.


The person with knowledge of the deal spoke on condition of anonymity because nothing has been announced officially.


Under the franchise tag in 2013, a player is paid according to a formula based on salaries for the past five years at the position and their percentage of the total salary cap.


With the non-exclusive tag, his team has the right to match any offer sheet, or get two first-round draft picks in return for allowing him to leave.


Both sides can continue to negotiate on a longer deal even after a franchise tag has been applied.


An exclusive tag ties him to his current team at a higher, but as-yet-undetermined price, for one season.


In a quarterback-driven league, Flacco certainly would draw plenty of interest on the open market.


Already tagged are Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd at $6.916 million, Indianapolis punter Pat McAfee at $2.977 million and Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson at $11.175 million.


The other tags for franchise players are $10.854 million for cornerbacks; $10.537 million for wide receivers; $9.828 million for offensive linemen; $9.619 million for linebackers; $8.45 million for defensive tackles; $8.219 million for running backs; and $6.066 million for tight ends.


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