Atlanta Falcons dead cap numbers have plummeted in just two years

Terry Fontenot's main priority after being hired by the Atlanta Falcons was to clear their books and he has done a phenomenal job in such a short time.

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We all know what type of cap situation the Atlanta Falcons were in just a couple of years ago. They were stuck in a situation where they had to 'rip the bandaid' off and look towards the future.

Terry Fontenot's main job when he took this job was to get the team back into a stable cap situation. To do that he had to make decisions that would tank the team for a couple of years but now we are seeing the benefits of his long-term plan.

Atlanta Falcons have shed $81 million in dead cap in just two years

NFL franchises can get stuck in a rut where they view themselves as 'one piece short' of making a run at a Super Bowl when, in reality, they need a lot more than just one piece. The Atlanta Falcons were stuck in that mentality under general manager Thomas Dimitroff and it ultimately took him being fired for that to change (although, you can't fault Dimitroff because he did not have job security).

Terry Fontenot was hired for the long haul which gave him the ability to make massive changes for the long-term health of the organization.

Of course, the big moves were the trades that sent Julio Jones to the Titans and Matt Ryan to the Colts, but other moves were made as well—trading Deion Jones to the Browns, releasing Dante Fowler, etc.

The Falcons set records at the time for their dead cap numbers. Matt Ryan had the largest dead cap hit in NFL history (which still stands) and the Falcons have pushed through a total of about $140 million in dead cap through Fontenot's first three offseasons.

Let's take a look at the dead cap numbers and where they rank since 2021:

Now, of course, 2024's number is due to rise with future moves but this proves Fontenot's plan has worked. The Falcons no longer have to allocate cap space to a bunch of players who aren't on the team.

The Falcons dead cap total has dropped by $80 million in two years—second most to the Chicago Bears' $83 million.

I think it is also a good idea to look back on the top dead cap hits each year to get a grasp of how things have changed.





$7.8M Julio Jones

$40.5M Matt Ryan

$12.1M Deion Jones

$2.5M Cordarrelle Patterson

$5.8M Desmond Trufant

$15,5M Julio Jones

$2.5M Marcus Mariota

$287K Jalen Mayfield

$2.4M James Carpenter

$11.9M Deion Jones

$2M Casey Hayward

$201K Darren Hall

$2.1M Ricardo Allen

$4.7M Dante Fowler Jr.

$1.2M Tae Davis

$13K Keilahn Harris

$1.8M Jamon Brown

$1.6M Damien Williams

$1M Lorenzo Carter

$12k Justin Marshall

Two things stick out on that chart, the first being the top cap hit each year. Cordarrelle Patterson, for now, is the top cap hit at $2.5 million which isn't even comparable to $7.8M, $40.5M, and $12,1M over the past three years.

The other thing is the caliber of players. You have names like Julio Jones, Matt Ryan, Deion Jones, Desmond Trufant, etc. from 2021 to 2023 compared to Cordarrelle Patterson and not much else in 2024. This shows the Falcons have not overpaid for players. Granted, part of that has to do with their lack of money in years past.

Having less dead cap means you are putting more dollars on the field. Nothing is worse than paying a player to sit at home or play for another team. Fortunately, we are past that point with the Falcons after Fontenot's decision to 'rip the bandaid off.'

More free agency news:


Just think about it, if Fontenot hadn't implemented his plan from day one, the Falcons wouldn't have players like Jessie Bates, David Onyemata, and Kaden Elliss. They also wouldn't have much to spend in this year's free agency.

Next. 10 FA to follow Raheem Morris. 10 free agents who could follow Raheem Morris to ATL. dark