How the Atlanta Falcons can free up space with 2021 salary cap
The Atlanta Falcons received good news earlier this week when it was reported that the NFL salary cap minimum would be at least $180 million.
While we haven’t gotten a maximum number yet, there was fear among league executives that we could be looking at a number closer to $175 million, which could prove to be very difficult for the Atlanta Falcons to get underneath the cap with their current expenses and still add pieces to their roster.
At this point, the Falcons have 39 players on their active roster following the cuts of Ricardo Allen, Allen Bailey and waiving of Kurt Benkert. However, among those 39 active roster players are 11 future reserve/practice roster squad guys, which means the adjusted number is just 28- the lowest in the league.
The cuts of Allen and Bailey freed up right around $11 million in cap space, but the Falcons are still currently at $186.9 million in total salaries plus the $11.5 million in dead money. That puts them at around $198.4 million in total costs, which is $18.4 million above the cap minimum.
While we won’t know the cap maximum just yet, one league executive told the Denver Post they were expecting it to be around $188 million, about $10 million less than in 2020. If that estimate is correct or even close, then the Falcons have quite the dilemma on their hands when navigating the cap:
They’ve got to find a way to clear enough to sign several bodies to get to their 53-man roster filled up and to do that, they’ve got to clear millions more in cap space.
So, what else can the Atlanta Falcons do to free up space this offseason?
We’re going to look at some in-depth numbers pertaining to contracts and potential cuts & restructures in the coming weeks, but for now here’s a quick breakdown of a few things we can expect the Falcons to do to free up space:
- Cut James Carpenter (would save right around $4 million)
- Restructure Julio Jones’ contract (could save almost $10 million in cap space)
- Restructure Grady Jarrett, Jake Matthews and Deion Jones (could save collectively almost $19 million)
If you make these three moves, you’re looking at around $33 million more in savings. That would put the Falcons at around $165.4 million in contractual obligations and dead money and that, in turn, would give them about $23 million in spending for the offseason- assuming the cap is at that $188 million number.
There are a couple of smaller restructures the Falcons can make to create more cash, but the biggest restructure that could be made is Matt Ryan.
If you’re thinking that the Falcons should move on from Ryan and not keep him for the life of his contract, then restructuring this season isn’t going to be worth it for you. However, if you believe Ryan could excel in Arthur Smith’s new offensive system, restructuring Ryan’s deal could save somewhere in the realm of $14 million to $15 million, which would give the Falcons enough room to bring in a few key pieces to potentially solidify this roster.