Posted: 6:00 am Friday, January 17th, 2014

A quick look at the Falcons’ salary cap situation 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons president Rich McKay (from left), general manager Thomas Dimitroff and owner Arthur Blank watch the Falcons play the Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in December of 2012. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Falcons president Rich McKay (from left), general manager Thomas Dimitroff and owner Arthur Blank watch the Falcons play the Buccaneers at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in December of 2012. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

The Falcons could enter free agency, which starts March 11, flushed with enough cash to make some major moves and some minor tweaks.

However, Falcons owner Arthur Blank has already sounded the fire alarm about free agency spending. “I think the emphasis will be on the draft and college free agents and the selective use of free agency,” Blank said recently.

So those notions of adding Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy, Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo and Kansas City offensive lineman Branden Albert are probably just delusional fan dreams.

Clearly, having been burned in free agency by the Dunta Robinson and Ray Edwards free agency deals, the Falcons plan to proceed with caution.

The Falcons have 55 players signed, but counting the top 51, per league rules, the Falcons are at $118.7 million against the 2014 cap, according to NFLPA documents. The cap for next season is projected to increase 2.6 percent, to $126.3 million.

When Tony Gonzalez’s $7 million comes off the books, the Falcons will have $14.6 million of available cap space.

They would have the flexibility to be a major player in free agent should they elect to cut several veterans who could give them up to $18.2 million in additional salary-cap space, which could bring their available total to $32.8 million.

“There are a variety of ways that you can bring change to your roster,” Blank said. “You can release players.”

The Falcons could elect to part ways with cornerback Asante Samuel (saving $4.5 million), safety Thomas DeCoud ($4.2 million), running back Steven Jackson ($3 million), linebacker Stephen Nicholas ($3 million) and defensive end Osi Umenyiora ($3.5 million).

General manager Thomas Dimitroff calls them “salary-cap casualties,” and it’s a league-wide practice. Here’s what he had to say after the team released Michael Turner, Dunta Robinson and John Abraham last season on March 1.

“I believe in the NFL today, so-called cap casualties are an issue for every team unless you’re at the top of the heap with $30 million to $40 million dollars available,” he said. “It’s something that we will get into as we continue to analyze and re-evaluate this roster as it stands.”

The Falcons also can create more room by renegotiating the contracts of wide receiver Roddy White ($6.3 against the 2014 cap) and left guard Justin Blalock’s contracts ($7.6 million against the cap) and possibly get as much as $40 million under the cap.

PAYROLL MATTERS

A look at the Falcons’ 10 highest salary-cap numbers entering the offseason

Name, Pos.; Cap number

Matt Ryan, QB; $17.5 million

Justin Blalock, LG; $7.6 million

Roddy White, WR; $6.3 million

Sam Baker, LT; $6.05 million

Julio Jones, WR; $5.1 million

William Moore, SS; $5.1 million

Asante Samuel, CB; $5.1 million

Thomas DeCoud, FS; $4.8 million

Osi Umenyiora, DE; $4.75 million

Stephen Nicholas, LB; $4.0 million

Source: NFL Players Association documents

163 comments
Wallace Freakin' Francis
Wallace Freakin' Francis

TD and Coach MUST have a hidden agenda, or at  least are playin' favorites.  What other explanation is there for keeping Antone Smith off the field?  Compare his production per carry to any other Falcon running back.  Antone. Just. Scores.  He's a baller.  We should trade or cut Stephen Jackson, save $$$,  and give Jackson's carries to Antone.  He is a special teams monster, but he belongs as the starting RB until he proves he can't handle the workload.  Every chance he gets, he impresses with his quickness, toughness, and burst for the end zone.  


Does anyone else find this peculiar?  It  annoys the snot outta me....


With righteous anger (but clear nostrils),

Wallace Freakin' Francis

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

Once more I'll say, trade Roddy White for OL or DL known high-level talent plus a draft pick. Roddy's value will never be higher, and with the return of Julio Jones and the improved, more experience Harry Douglas, the team should be fine at the WR position. Roddy will be 33 in November, and he has stated that he does not want to play into his late 30s. The Falcons have got to improve both lines immediately.

BigHittas
BigHittas

Let DaCoupe go!
never been a pro level athlete, 90% of he time is out of position, but he is an excellent whiner.
One of TD's boys for sure.
Please keep Blalock, he's the only offensvie lineman we have left!

seminoleking
seminoleking

so the falcons didnt learn anything THIS season after releasing abraham, robinson, turner, etc.? so now they wanna release osi, jackson and samuel???????? uummmm yall didnt learn YET? MAN, the falcons are not trying to win with depth. they wanna keep bringing in rookies they dont have to pay............

youidiots
youidiots

Joe-T being a well educated man it's comments like yours that makes lets just say reading enjoyable knowing individuals such as your self having psychological issues with wanting to be heard! We all hear you Joe-T

you FRICKEN IDIOT!

youidiots
youidiots

Again I sit back and say to myself, if I was Arthur who is the one player that has NOT contributed well to define his position here in Atlanta? I won't point my fingers at the whole starting offensive line or defensive line but, that would be a step in the right direction. Anyway, moving forward my choice would be to get rid of SAM BAKER. At times he has shown me some very small if any) achievements here but his salary just does NOT substantiate the falcons keeping him. (I am sorry that I don't know Bakers salary guarantee) but really now he has been awful over the years providing very little protection. The AX has to come down!

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

Dear Mat Rayan did u see Rusell Wilsin? He done took his team 2 the Superbowel and he onoy been in the laeuge 2 years


Waht do U haf 2 say abuout that?

zuzu331
zuzu331

Since theres been so much derision thrown Ryan's way about lack of toughness:Did you see Welker lay down that block? How long has it been since any of the Falcons bigname bigdeal Super Duper WR s actually BLOCK someone?



Well,theres no Flashy Catch Phrase Dance that goes with an old school block,now is there?



TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Maybe we just ask Matt Ryan what HE wants us to do with the team. He pretty much has as much money as Arthur now. Maybe just let him decide what to do since half the salary cap goes to him anyway?

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Maybe we keep Snelling on the team so he can supply the medicinal pot when needed? Keep Osi since you gave up pro bowler Abraham to get him. Maybe keep Nicholas so that all your linebackers didn't come in as undrafted free agents.

Seriously folks, what's the matter with this team? Can you say lame GM? Or is that the Braves? You tell me.

CedricJohnson
CedricJohnson

If the falcons play this right they can be right back in a contention spot ..... To me it really doesn't matter who they get in the draft, as long as it's a LB, OL , or DL or move back to stock pile .... The key to this offseason could be free Agency n who they decide to cut .... I'd keep Osi n Samuel for the hell of it .... I wouldn't mind drafting Michael Sams in the 2nd or 3rd ... I'd take Tre Mason if he was on the broad around the 4th or 5th .... We should cut Decoud and get someone who can cover back there ... It's a lot of wholes but I think we should just focus on our defense mainly.

SeenThatB4
SeenThatB4

The falcan'ts will find a way to squander whatever CAP space they have and have absolutely nothing to show for it.   What a bunch of losers.

TheMonger
TheMonger

I do think the Falcons should keep Steven Jackson and Osi Umenyiora.  Osi wasn't the dominant defensive end we expected, but he did have 7.5 sacks and a pick 6 INT against the Rams that pretty much won the game for us.  Steven Jackson was running much harder at the end of the year, and I think he is worth keeping around for 3rd down situations, and he is only 3.5 million against the cap.  I think both are keepers for at least one more year to see how they do.  Remember, we are pretty thin at RB and DE depth wise. Hopefully we get a DE/OLB pass rusher with our #6 pick to add depth behind Osi, Biermann, and Massaquoi.  Ideally we would get a Greg Hardy or Brian Orakpo in Free Agency, but it appears that may not happen.  Running back may be even thinner with us resorting to a Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling backfield without Steven Jackson returning, unless we spend a draft pick on running back.  I still have know idea why Smith keeps Antone Smith off the field. 

TheMonger
TheMonger

Man, I hate to say it cause these guys gave a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to the Falcons, but Asante Samuel, Stephen Nicholas, and Thomas DeCoud can go ahead and pack their bags.  There is no way a GM will pay a combined $13.9 million for guys who contributed next to nothing all season last year.  Asante and Nicholas have declined too much, and DeCoud had the worst season I have ever seen from a Safety.  The guy goes from Pro Bowl (which was a questionable decision to me) to missing tackles, getting burned on routes, and generally out of position on 90 percent of the plays.  He made almost no big plays last year, he didn't pick off one pass the whole season if I remember correctly.

tyger
tyger

2014 HBCU Draft Board

Players (1-10) Pre-Combine

Name Ht/Wt Pos School
1.Isaiah Crowell 5’11/220 RB Ala St.
2.Kadeem Edwards 6’3/320 OL Tenn St
3.Joseph Thomas 6’0/230 LB SC State
4.Karim Barton 6’3/310 OL Morgan St.
5.Qua Cox 5’10/190 DB Jackson St.
6.LeRon Furr 6’2/232 LB FVSU
7.Lee Doss 6’3/200 WR Southern
8.Tyler McDonald 6’2/200 WR SC State
9.Robert Simpson 6’3/270 DL MSVS
10.Arnold Walker 5’10/225 RB Alcorn St.

www.hbcuclassics.com

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Maybe Dimitroff's problems stem from that gay purple shirt in the picture above. Perhaps that's a tipoff right there Mr. Blank!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Please - no more drafts by Dimitroff!! No more Peria Jerry's, Peter Konz's, Sam Bakers, Lamar Holmes with our draft picks. Stop the bleeding now. And Especially, no more trading 5 draft picks to move up 12 positions.

Dimitroff, go watch the Seinfeld episode where George decides to do the opposite of everything he would normally do in the past. Now you do the same thing. Trade every draft pick you have for real established NFL players that are NOT over the hill (read here such as Steven Jackson, Etc.).

Do this because you are no good at the draft, but other teams can use our valuable picks and would love to have them. Now go get some real linemen and a running back by trading these picks. Maybe you can even get some of your cast offs back like Abraham and Grimes that made the Pro Bowl while all our guys had to watch!! Whew, I feel better now.

Really666
Really666

OT Anthony Collins Bengals
NT Linval Joseph New York Giants
DE Lamarr Houston Oakland Raiders or Michael Johnson Bengals
S Jairus Byrd

Falcons63
Falcons63

Don't get me wrong, the Defense has a definite need for an influx of talent... but if you improve the oline, you will improve the running game and that will in itself make the defense better by keeping them off the field.  I think Jackson has one more solid season left in him.. However,  it's probably a good idea to look in the middle rounds of the draft for his possible heir.  As far as Greg Hardy, I think he's a great player, but I will be shocked if Carolina lets him hit the open market. 

Indyjones226
Indyjones226

If Falcons have this much room I can't see why we would go after Alex Mack( center from Cleveland}and Greg Hardy( DE from Carolina) via free agency. To have the center piece would open up our running game so much. Hardy would help Umeniora pressure the QB an we'll have depth with Kroy Berriman. Draft Greg Robinson or trade back for guard. The o line needs fixing adding 2 guys would help tremendously plus give us o line depth. Don't want to trade up for Clowney. He's a he's a head case and you never know if he'll show up to play. The Falcons don't need that kind of Drama. Plus, they need all the picks they can get. Draft- 1)OT 2)LB/RB 3)RB/OL/LB.

Hemmorid_Sufferer_2
Hemmorid_Sufferer_2

Ryan was sacked 9 times in the last game. I think fixing that is paramount considering the amount of money he is earning. 

Falcons63
Falcons63

JMO, but the least of the Falcons problems is the owner's unwillingness to spend money.  The stat about them not being in the top 10 in salaries is misleading.  That stat may hold true in baseball.  A rich owner can basically buy himself a contender.  In the NFL every team spends within a few million dollars of the cap. The Falcons had gone into this season expecting to contend, and had left themselves a little room under the cap for emergencies.  No one foresaw the complete collapse of the Oline.  You may have had salary cap room to sign a player but it's not like there are starting caliber NFL left tackles waiting to be signed during the season.  The lack of depth on the team isn't due to an unwillingness to spend money, but rather a very poor job evaluating/developing the talent on hand.

Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Big Crimson....your draft list is interesting but not offensive lineman listed? A couple linemen early and a lineman in FA would go along way.  Would not waste a draft  pick on a TE or WR this year.  Get the big guys first and get the lines back to being respectable, imho.

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

rise up from 4-12. trade up for Clowney.




.

doktrt
doktrt

Falcons better get themselves an offensive line. Jettison Baker because I'm sure he has already injured himself. The NFL has changed. You better be able to put points on the board. You need a defense that only needs to force your opponent to punt 3 times in a game because you aren't going to stop anyone. The NFL with all the rules bent towards the offense has made the game more like an arcade than the black and blue football many of us grew up with. Draft for offense and pick up some defenders in free agent market. If UGA's Murray is available in the 4th round take him. The backups behind Ryan are abysmal. Draft OL, Draft OL, Draft OL in every other round.

ChuckinAlpharetta
ChuckinAlpharetta

There are only six teams that had lower 2013 spend on personnel than the Atlanta Falcons (118.4m).

Of the teams that are in the conference championship game, all but the Patriots are in the Top Ten, and the Patriots have Tom Brady, a QB so good he can still guide his team to greatness despite constantly losing his favorite targets to free agency.

Where is or depth on the OL, DL, etc.? We don't have it, because we don't spend for it.

Arthur Blank was supposed to be an owner that invested in building this team for championships and to be one of the best teams in the league, but that is clearly not the case. And now he is talking about building through the draft? AFTER he was gifted with millions of taxpayer dollars to help build him a new stadium??

Rankin Smith came to be reviled by this city because Atlanta's salary was always at the bottom of the league. Exactly what has changed?

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Wallace Freakin' Francis 

"Peculiar" is too kind. "Annoying" is a bit more like it.

A. Smith deserves increased playing time based on his excellent 2013 production in extremely limited appearances.

T-town's Finest
T-town's Finest

@Joe-T Excuse me, can you spell anything correctly? Did you pass the 3rd grade? No? Then stop commenting on sports articles.

GeorgeJetsen
GeorgeJetsen

In addition......R Wilson has a 3-1 playoff record while M Ryan is 1-4. Looks to me like TD bet the house on the wrong guy.

Dman
Dman

The FalCans will RISE UP next season and the sAints will surely descend into the celar of our divisions as the aging Drew Brees will start to show his age...

JSSN
JSSN

@SeenThatB4 

The only bad thing about the new posting system is that they left door open and all of the sore losers and faux Internet Rockefeller Wannabes got a free pass. Sadly, they he's still too stupid to not try something new in deriding you!

Twisterfire
Twisterfire

@SeenThatB4 now that the saints are out of contention, you can go back to cleaning toilets full time without any distraction.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

It takes a Saints fan to point out the obvious, You guys kind of pooped your pants at the end of the season also!

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Agree with your comments other than keeping Jackson! Are you kidding! He has lost all speed and quickness from his game. He's the 4th best running back on the Falcons and none of them are good. Total waste of money! Shows Dimitroff does not have the skilled eye.

skullfrogger
skullfrogger

@TreeRollins 

So you think that those picks mentioned above outweigh the picks of Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Sean Weatherspoon, Harry Douglas, Kroy Biermann, William Moore, Corey Peters, Desmond Trufant, and Robert Alford?  You are a hater, plain and simple.

notPlanB
notPlanB

Lots of positions to fill. Let's give A Smith & J Vaughan a chance before using picks on a RB. A Smith is good on ST but he also made some great runs this year. Give him a chance. If the coaches don't like what they see in Vaughan, get rid of him. Playing preseason with 2nd string against 2nd string isn't the same as getting a few snaps with the starters in a real game. WPP...WPP...WPP is killing us.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@Falcons63 

A year ago, when we were lamenting the Falcons' collapse in the NFC title game, many were calling for improvements in the OL because of the team's poor running game. Those improvements never came, which had more than a little to do with the abysmal 2013 season. And now we can add the virtually nonexistent pass protection, which points even more to the need for strengthening the OL above all else.

JSSN
JSSN

f@Falcons63

Plenty of  folks saw this coming, and they were called "trolls" and worse for saying things came to fruition this past regular season in spades!

notPlanB
notPlanB

Where is or depth on the OL, DL, etc.? We don't have it, because we don't spend for it.
******************

Is it the money not being spent or is it the inability to draft good players. How can a GM have depth on his OL when his starters are dismal. Best OL Blalock was here before TD. Best DL Babs was here before TD. I don't have hate for this guy. It's just that he hasn't been able to get the best drafts or FA's. Some, in the know, say he didn't need to move up to get someone (wasted picks) and some say he could have gotten that person in the next round. I believe he wants certain people and picks some earlier than necessary rather than lose one and get the next best player available. Hard to explain what I'm trying to say.

JSSN
JSSN

@T-town's Finest

"Excuse me, can you spell anything correctly?"


Wow, how long have you been reading AJC Blogs? That is his Schtick! Relax and save the character assassination for when he or others goes off on something other than football!

Twisterfire
Twisterfire

@JSSN @SeenThatB4 or maybe "they he" don't have that much time on their hands to try something new like you because "they he" have a life outside of posting on AJC 24/7....pathetic as usual

JSSN
JSSN

@skullfrogger @TreeRollins 

What? Ryan and Jones are the only players on that list who remotely make people pause. Even Julio doesn't make people shudder because he can't stay healthy! 

DawgNole
DawgNole

@JSSN 

And it's a VERY tiresome schtick. Has been for quite some time.

JSSN
JSSN

@JamesCammer

Poor you, new year same old game plan! Nobody is here picking blogs fights and all the usual pop song cliche crap that come in here with every time you try one of your drive bys! Don't let the library door hit your rear on the way out!

J-Wad

Twisterfire
Twisterfire

@JSSN @JamesCammer lol you seem butthurt bro. Chill out its only internet. I am very impressed that you know the definition of "pathetic". Whether you want to stay in denial or not, you must admit YOU are pretty pathetic for someone who doesn't care about a team but still has all the time in his schedule to post on AJC about them 24/7. Thats the epitome of pathetic man. ASK ANYBODY. I don't take sports too seriously but I do have a passion for my team so it won't bother me even if they blow a top 10 pick. MY LIFE DOESNT DEPEND ON IT like yours. That man who they traded the farm for is doing a whole lot better than you, some old washed up whiny guy whose pathetic life consists of picking up fight on AJC. hahahaha. I am out bro but enjoy your pathetic existence apart from reality!

JSSN
JSSN

@JamesCammer 

In comparison to who, you? No, "pathetic" is a social derelict who can't even intellectually or minimally approach even their worst enemy with even a modicum of sensible brain power to exhibit!  Troll on, only you and two other j-wads (they he) snivel around with the same tired load of manure. Meanwhile, enjoy blowing another top ten pick. How's the one that they traded the farm for doing in rehab?

notPlanB
notPlanB

JSSN is correct, not to mention who can go wrong with pick #3 MR and the 6th pick after giving up so many picks for JJ.

Trackbacks

  1. […] release, many signs points toward it. Samuel is set to cost the team between $5.1 million (according to the AJC) and $5.7 million (according to SpotRac) in cap space in 2014 (another says $5.25 million). For the […]

  2. […] D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporting that the Atlanta Falcons are expected to enter the […]

  3. […] There is a lot of speculation surrounding DeCoud because of the dip in his play last season. We’ve been reporting since January that he was a potential salary cap casualty. […]

  4. […] There is a lot of speculation surrounding DeCoud because of the dip in his play last season. We’ve been reporting since January that he was a potential salary cap casualty. […]