The Atlanta Journal-Constitution | D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons are not going to use their franchise tag on strong safety Keanu Neal, his agent confirmed Tuesday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Neal, who was selected in the first round (17th overall) in 2016, has started 48 of 49 games played over the past five seasons. Also, the Falcons released veteran guard James Carpenter, the team announced Tuesday.

Near the end of last season, Neal cited his favorite memory being the Super Bowl run the Falcons went on during his rookie season. Neal has played last season under the fifth-year option, valued at $6.5 million.

With the release of Carpenter, the Falcons are projected to be $16.2 million over the projected $180 million salary cap. The team couldn’t afford to place the $11.2 million franchise tag for a safety on Neal.

Neal suffered a torn ACL in the 2018 season and an Achilles injury in 2019 that cut his time to four games over two seasons.

Neal started 14 of 15 games last season. The hard-hitting safety finished with 100 tackles, nine tackles for losses, three quarterback hits and one sack.