The Falcons may have been silent on Monday as the legal tampering period began, but they are far from finished from making headlines with cap transactions looming.
Given the fact that Atlanta has the lowest roster total paired with crippling cap deficits, the team was never expected to be in play for top-tier targets this offseason. Of the Falcons’ current 43 players on the roster, about a third are made up of practice squad/reserve players.
Atlanta did manage to sneak in news late Monday afternoon by announcing that Matt Gono was given a second-round tender. The price tag for a second round tender for the 2021 season rests at $3.38 million, which is nearly double his cap hit from the past three seasons combined.
Gono’s deal is somewhat comparable to other free agents signed this offseason, many of whom will see their cap hit climb higher in 2022. So why can’t the Falcons offer the same type of deal for a better player?
It’s very simple. The Falcons only have 19 players on the roster next season and just $32 million to spend on filling it out. Seattle and Pittsburgh both have 19 players on their rosters for the 2022 season. The difference is that they have $116 million and $127 million respectively to spend next year –nearly $100 million more than Atlanta.
If we thought this free agency period was dreadful, the Falcons could be forced to part ways with some very instrumental players next offseason. Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones and Dante Fowler are early favorites given their 2022 cap hits.
This also makes restructuring Matt Ryan’s contract very hard as he is already slated to have a cap hit of $41.6 million in 2022, higher than his $40.9 cap hit in 2021. Ryan’s willingness to restructure his deal in years past have caused his cap hit to balloon. Any further restructure could see Ryan have a cap hit north of $50 million in 2022 and 2023.
Not only do the Falcons have to clear nearly $14 million in cap space by 4:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 17, but they also have to do so without touching Ryan’s contract. Because Atlanta restructured his contract on March 25, 2020, the Falcons will have to live with his cap hit until the same date in 2021.
Left tackle Jake Matthews has been the lone member of the team to see his contract restructured thus far.
Falcons trade up for a QB in PFF's latest mock draft
Falcons offseason tracker: Matt Gono gets second-round tender
Falcons draft two dynamic playmakers in CBS Sports 7-round mock
How can the Falcons get underneath the projected 2021 salary cap?