Atlanta Falcons 2014 Salary Cap Breakdown

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Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Bad Contracts

I like to get the bad out of the way before I let myself bask in the good. So, let’s go over the bad contracts on the Falcons roster first.

One thing before we get going, I’m not saying that these players aren’t good or shouldn’t still have a role on the team, what I’m saying here is that their production on the field doesn’t match how much cap space they take up.

Okay, here are the bad contracts that the Falcons have to deal with –

William Moore, S ($5.15 million cap number)

William Moore has started 54 games for the Falcons since entering the league in 2009. He’s a sure tackler in the open field and snags the occasional interception when the opportunity arises. But, he’s the perfect example of someone who’s costing the team more than he should.

First, he’s a safety. Safeties shouldn’t be taking up big cap numbers in the NFL. You can find cheap ones in the draft or free agency who can do a capable job. More and more in the NFL safeties are just asked to keep everything in front of them and not give up big plays. You don’t need to use up over $5 million of your cap for that.

While the Falcons would love to get rid of his cap number, unless Moore is willing to re-work his deal it isn’t going to change. Moore’s first two years on the deal are guaranteed, so the Falcons wouldn’t save any money by releasing him.

Steven Jackson, RB ($4.16 million cap number)

This is one of my biggest pet peeves. NFL teams should never, and I mean never, use large cap space for a running back. You just don’t need to spend big money on ball carriers anymore.

Colleges put out tons of talented young ball carriers, and teams can get them in the later rounds with no problem. If you use your cap space to lock up quality offensive lineman, you can put almost any NFL-caliber back behind them and he will be successful. If you don’t have good offensive lineman, it doesn’t matter how talented the running back is. Atlanta found this out the hard way last year, hopefully they learned their lesson.

Much like Moore, the Falcons wouldn’t save any money this year if they got rid of Jackson. He’ll stay, but hopefully this will be the last time Dimitroff and company give big money to a running back.

Matt Ryan, QB ($17.5 million cap number)

I know, I know, I’m going to get killed for this, but I really believe it so here goes.

Matt Ryan is a very good NFL quarterback. But, like Tony Gonzalez said, he’s not an elite quarterback. He’s good enough to win you a title, but he’s not good enough to drag you to one. I like him a lot as the starter on the Falcons, but that kind of money should only be given to one of the top four or five quarterbacks in the league.

The problem with giving Ryan that kind of money is that it means you have less to spend on the team around him. If you look back on the last eight Super Bowl winning teams, only half of them had quarterbacks who are considered elite. And, out of those four (Brees, Rodgers, Brady and Manning), only Manning was already taking up a big-time salary cap number when his team won.

Some may say that you need an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl, but that’s not the case. What you need is a quarterback that can play at an elite level for a few months, but does not take up too much cap space. Ryan is the man to get the Falcons to a title, but his cap number could be what keeps them from winning it.

Matt Bryant, K ($3.3 million cap number)

Seriously? $3 million for a kicker? I don’t need to say much else. You can always find a decent kicker who would cost a fraction of that.

A kicker should cost you, at most, $1 million against the cap. That $2.2 million savings could be a good rotational offensive or defensive lineman right there.

Sean Weatherspoon, OLB ($4.1 million cap number)

Sean Weatherspoon has been relatively productive when he can stay on the field, but that hasn’t been very often. He’s only started all 16 games once since being drafted, and made only seven starts last season. This is the perfect case of someone being valuable, but not as valuable as the cheaper alternatives that are actually producing on the field.

With the emergence of Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow, the Falcons would love to get rid of Spoon’s big cap hit. But, he’s on the last year of the deal so it’s likely that the team will give him one last chance to prove he has what it takes to be a starting outside linebacker for the future.