The Atlanta Falcons are in an all-out war with the salary cap. General manager Terry Fontenot, in his first season with the team, has made it clear that tough decisions will have to be made. While attention has naturally turned to the team’s top earners, such as Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett, Fontenot appears in no hurry to touch the contracts of either player.
The Atlanta Falcons do need to free up cap space, though.
Per Over The Cap, they currently have just $482,351 in cap space and are yet to sign any of their draft class. They will need to get that figure to between $5.5 million and $7 million to sign the rookies, depending on how the contracts are structured.
The situation isn’t as bleak as some are making out, though, and the Falcons do have players who should be capable of fetching late-round picks at the very least. But which players and contracts could be moved?
Hayden Hurst was solid in his first season in Atlanta. It’s difficult to argue that the Falcons overpaid – they sent a 2020 second and fifth-round pick in exchange for the Baltimore Ravens’ third-string tight end and a fourth-round pick – but that blame lies at the door of Thomas Dimitroff.
Hurst did what was expected of him. He stepped into Austin Hooper’s role well and, while he didn’t see the same volume, he matched Hooper’s efficiency and touchdown production. Hurst caught 56 of the 88 passes thrown his way for 571 yards and six touchdowns.
This isn’t a criticism of Hayden Hurst. There’s just no way that he’s playing for the Falcons in 2022. His fifth-year option, which would have seen him earn $5.4 million fully guaranteed in 2022, was declined. Kyle Pitts is the future in Atlanta.
Still, on his rookie contract, Hurst isn’t a big earner.
The Atlanta Falcons could trade him without incurring any further dead money, though, and the extra $1,984,914 that the team would free up could be very useful.