Per a report I first heard from the AJC.com’s Jeff Schultz, the Atlanta Falcons have finally released veteran FB Ovie Mughelli. Mughelli was due more than $3Million against the 2012 salary cap, and obviously the Falcons have gotten a little wiser as to how to use that salary cap space. Now that the Falcons have cut him, they have an additional $3M to spend on free-agents or signing their rookies.
The writing has been on the wall for months. When looking at the Falcon’s salary cap situation, it was obvious that paying Mughelli $3M a year to play the FB position was not fiscally responsible. In a league where many teams don’t ever use a FB, the Falcons had more money wrapped up in the position than nearly any other team.
Things only got more clear when the people in the Falcons front office (including Thomas Dimitroff) decided to use a 5th round pick on Bradie Ewing. The fullback position does not require a tremendous amount of skill; his job is to smash defenders in the face and allow the runningbacks to make cuts off their blocks. The Falcons get Ewing, a guy with no NFL experience, but a guy who won’t be a tremendous dropoff from the production Mughelli brought. He will be as valuable a receiver as Mughelli was, and he can carry the ball nearly as effectively. Did I mention before that he is going to cost the Falcons a whole lot less? That certainly helps.
I think the Falcons were wise to cut Mughelli and free up additional salary cap space. With the Samuel deal and the restructuring of Justin Blalock’s deal, the Falcons had $4Million in cap space. With the release of Mughelli, the number is up to $7M. Granted, that is before the 2012 draftees are signed and given their money, but I imagine the final salary cap number after signing those players will be at least $3M. That would give the Falcons money to sign another free-agent (Marcus McNeill?) or to roll over into 2013 and create greater cap space in that season. It is sad to see Mughelli go, but I think that this is a business decision that is definitely better for the Falcons. His time here was good, but it was definitely time to move on from him. With Bradie Ewing, the Falcons finally can.