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Falcons release veteran cornerback Casey Hayward

The Atlanta Falcons are moving on from veteran cornerback Casey Hayward after just one season with the club.

Atlanta announced on Friday that it released Hayward, less than a week before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Hayward's departure was preceded by the additions of defensive backs Jeff Okudah (via trade), Jessie Bates and Mike Hughes (via free agency) this offseason. Due $5 million in 2023 -- none of it guaranteed -- Hayward was instead pushed out of the Atlanta defensive backfield.

Entering his 12th NFL season, Hayward, 33, will now be looking for his fifth professional franchise. Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the 2012 draft, Hayward left for the Chargers in 2016, spending five seasons with the club in San Diego and Los Angeles and earning two Pro Bowl nods. He spent the 2021 season with the Las Vegas Raiders before signing a two-year deal with Atlanta last season.

In 2022, Hayward started all six of his games played for the Falcons across from stud corner A.J. Terrell, logging 17 combined tackles, three passes defensed and an interception. But Hayward's season was cut short by a shoulder injury, and the vet spent the rest of the season on injured reserve.

Atlanta will move on with Terrell, Okudah, Hughes and others on the back end, with the potential to add to its "really strong" defense (Grady Jarrett's words) with seven picks in next week's draft, including No. 8 overall and three selections in the first 75.

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