Asante Samuel and Justin Blalock are truly team players, and are really making things a whole lot easier for the Falcons salary cap.
Before the Atlanta Falcons traded a 7th round pick for Asante Samuel, they were approximately $1.6 Million under the salary cap. I estimated that after the move, the Falcons would be around $4 Million over the cap. That number was off by quite a bit. Asante Samuel will make $3.875 M in 2012, but $1M of that will come from Philadelphia. So the Falcons will only have to pay Samuel $2.875 M for the 2012 season. That is a huge bargain for a player of Samuel’s caliber. It is a very cap friendly deal as well, and it seems to my eyes that Samuel is playing at a discounted rate for the privilege of playing for the Atlanta Falcons.
That isn’t all of the news though. Justin Blalock, starting left guard for the Falcons and consummate team player, took a contract restructuring to accommodate Samuel’s contract. When Blalock signed his 6-year $38M contract on August 1, 2011, his salary cap number was going to be $5.3M for 2012. After his restructuring, he is going to make $3.86M in 2012. Granted, the money was simply shifted into future years and he isn’t taking a pay cut over the course of the contract, but it says a lot about his willingness to win that he agree to a restructuring of his contract. As of right now, the Falcons have over $650,000 in cap space.
Lets also not forget about Brent Grimes contract. He is scheduled to make $10.2 M in 2012, but that number could significantly decrease if he signs a long term deal that would decrease his 2012 cap number, and give him a longer guaranteed contract. I suspect that at some point this summer Grimes will sign a long term deal, and that will only provide more cap space for the Falcons.
The most interesting piece of this puzzle is Asante Samuel himself. It says a lot about how important happiness is for a player, and that he feels valued by the franchise for which he plays. Samuel felt unwanted and like the odd man out in Philly, and the front office up there decided to try to move him. Samuel was willing to take less money over the life of the contract ($18.5M as opposed to the original $21M) over more years (3 years as opposed to 2 years originally) resulting in less money overall and per year. I’m not saying that Samuel is the greatest individual in the world or really selfless as a result of this move, because he has earned tens of millions of dollars during his career. However, it does show that Samuel wanted to be part of a winning franchise and part of a team that valued his skills set.