The Falcons have officially slammed the door shut on the Michael Vick era.
He was released from the team Friday and is free to sign with any team in the National Football League.
“It’s a situation that we have been thinking about for quite some time,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “We did our due diligence. We’ve been searching around the league and were looking for some interest as far as a trade.
“In the very end, we came to a conclusion that it was time. It was best for both us and Michael Vick to move on, to turn the chapter.”
The Falcons said several teams were interested in trading for Vick.
“But in the very end, without mentioning the teams, they just felt like it was not the right time to do it for them,” Dimitroff said. “We just decided to move forward.”
Dimitroff delivered the news to Vick with a personal phone call.
“He was accepting of it, as you could imagine,” Dimitroff said. “He was expecting it, I’m sure. He was upbeat.
“We respect him as an individual and as an athlete in this profession. It was the right thing to do. I’m happy that we had a conversation today.”
Vick remains suspended and would have to be reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
But his release allows him to negotiate with other teams. NFL franchises can sign suspended players, according to the league office.
He also is now free to consider options in the Canadian Football League or with the United Football League that is set to open play in the fall.
“Everybody already knew that Michael would not be playing with the Falcons,” said Joel Segal, Vick’s longtime agent said. “He’s just taking it one day at a time.”
The Falcons will take a $7.11 million salary cap hit this season. They are currently about $20 million under the $128 million cap.
Vick had a prorated bonus number of $6.43 million for the 2009 season and an additional $680,000 — his prorated bonus for 2010 — to create the $7.11 million salary cap hit.
This amount would not necessarily hinder the Falcons because most teams operate with as much as 10 percent of “dead cap money.”
“We budgeted for it,” Dimitroff said of the $680,000 acceleration. “It’s small. He’s off the cap next year.”