The 34-year-old had two years remaining on a three-year extension he signed with the Falcons in July 2014. He was set to count just over $6.1 million against the salary cap, and by cutting White, Atlanta frees up roughly $2.4 million in cap space.
Despite starting every game in 2015, White had his worst season since 2006, setting lows in receiving yards (506), catches (43), touchdowns (1) and targets (70). Among the 15 wide receivers that had 16 starts this season, he had the fewest yards and receptions.
At his peak from 2007-12, White was one of the league's most productive wideouts. He had at least 1,100 yards in each of those six seasons, and his 7,773 total receiving yards were second only to Calvin Johnson in that span. However, he suffered a dramatic statistical drop-off in the last three seasons, averaging just 62 receptions and 713 yards from 2013-15.
The news surely comes as a disappointment to White, who has said all along that he intended to spend the remainder of his career in Atlanta.
"I plan on being a Falcon forever," White said late in the season. "That's what they told me. That's where my heart is. That's where my mind's at."
Quarterback Matt Ryan also expressed his hope that White would remain with the Falcons.
"[White]'s the best, and has been for a long time since I've been here not only on the field. I mean, second to none," Ryan said. "He's as great a competitor as I've ever been around and as good a player as there is, but even better in the locker room. Just a great teammate, good friend, and I'm hoping it keeps going for a long time."
The Falcons' all-time receiving leader, White's name is all over the franchise record books and he is beloved in Atlanta. It was clear last season that the fans were not happy about his diminished role in the offense, and his release from the team will likely be an unpopular move among Falcons supporters.
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