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The Atlanta Falcons have released cornerback Casey Hayward. The team announced the move in a late-Friday afternoon press release.

Hayward had signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Falcons last offseason. He was set to count against the team's books for $7 million in 2023, but his release saves Atlanta $5 million against the cap and leaves a $2 million dead-money charge, according to overthecap.com

Hayward ended up playing in just six games for the Falcons, recording one interception and three passes defensed while starting across from A.J. Terrell. He suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery, which sent him to injured reserve and kept him out for the remainder of the season. 

Hayward became expendable when the Falcons swung a trade with the Detroit Lions for former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah. Atlanta sent a fifth-round pick in next week's draft to the Lions in exchange for the former Ohio State star who has largely underperformed relative to his draft slot, but has still flashed high-level ability at (rare) times. 

Atlanta spent much of this offseason remaking its defense after hiring former New Orleans Saints co-defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen to lead their defense under head coach Arthur Smith. The Falcons signed Jessie Bates, Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Bud Dupree, and Mike Hughes, among others, looking to upgrade their talent base on that side of the ball. In conjunction with players coming in, some have to leave the building, and it appears that Hayward was one of the odd men out.