Posted: 8:16 pm Monday, March 3rd, 2014

Falcons $26.7 million under cap, can pursue Jairus Byrd 

By D. Orlando Ledbetter

Jairus Byrd is on the move. (Rick Havner/Associated Press)

Jairus Byrd is on the move. (Rick Havner/Associated Press)

The free agency picture became a little clearer with the passing of the franchise and transition tag deadline on Monday.

The biggest news of the day was that Buffalo safety Jairus Byrd, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive back, was not tagged and appears to have a clear path to the open market.

The Falcons now have 53 players signed, but counting the top 51, per league rules, the Falcons are at $113.3 million against the cap, according to National Football League Players Association documents. The cap for next season will increase to $133 million.

Once the $7 million slot that Tony Gonzalez is holding is removed, the Falcons will have

$26.7 million under the 2014 salary cap.

The Falcons can also renegotiate some contracts to create additional room. For instance, wide receiver Roddy White’s salary-cap number of $6.3 million and left guard Justin Blalock’s salary-cap number of $7.6 million could be reduced with a two- or three-year extension.

The Falcons, who have elected not to use the franchise or transition tag this offseason, have entered into contract talks with defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, defensive tackle Corey Peters and center/guard Joe Hawley.

The Falcons’ list of potential unrestricted free agents include Babineaux, Hawley, Peters, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, offensive Mike Johnson, Sean Locklear and Jeremy Trueblood, tight end Chase Coffman, cornerback Dominique Franks and linebacker Omar Gaither.

The Falcons,who have cut Asante Samuel, Stephen Nicholas and Garrett Reynolds, could elect to part ways with more veterans. Free safety Thomas DeCoud ($4.2 million) is the most likely candidate if they are able to sign Byrd in free agency.

With the tags being used around the league, we need to adjust the five possible free agent targets from the previous article, with Byrd moving up to the top spot.

The Bills have until March 11 to re-sign Byrd. The Falcons and other teams can start negotiating with Byrd’s agent, Eugene Parker on Saturday. They couldn’t sign him until Monday.

Parker represents Falcons running back Steven Jackson, who signed with the team during free agency last season.

Here are five possible free agent targets for the Falcons:

1. Jairus Byrd, safety, Buffalo. He has played five seasons with the Bills, since being selected in the second-round (42nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft. He’s a three-time Pro Bowler and has 22 career interceptions. In the Falcons’ 34-31 victory over the Bills on Dec. 1 in Toronto, Byrd had nine tackles. He played last season under the franchise tag and was the eighth ranked safety in the league, according to profootballfocus.com. DeCoud was the 83rd ranked safety last season. Defensive end Greg Hardy previously held the top spot but Carolina slapped the franchise tag on him.

2. Michael Johnson, defensive end, Cincinnati: The former Georgia Tech standout has the high FBI (Football Intelligence) that the Falcons like. He had 11.5 sacks in 2012, but his numbers dipped to 3.5 sacks last season. He also had 10 pass deflections in 2013. Center Alex Mack of Cleveland previously held the No. 2 spot, but he received the transition tag from the Browns.

3. Michael Bennett, defensive end, Seattle: After signing a one-year, $5 million deal, Bennett, 28, is hoping to strike a lucrative deal. He led the Super Bowl champs with 8.5 sacks and was one of the top rated defensive end in the league last season. Bennett played 617 snaps and had 17 quarterback this and 39 quarterback pressures last season, according to analytics site, profootballfocus.com. Defensive end Osi Umenyiora led the Falcons with seven sacks, four quarterback hits and 29 pressures last season.

4. Branden Albert, T, Kansas City: He’d have to be fine with playing right tackle because the Falcons believe that Sam Baker is their left tackle. He played 12 games at left tackle last season and was the 28th ranked tackle in the league, according to profootballfocus.com. He had nine penalties, gave up four sacks, five quarterback hits and eight hurries. Trueblood started 12 games at right tackle and was the 53rd rated tackle in the league. Lamar Holmes started 13 games at left tackle and three at right tackle. He was the 75th rated tackle in the league.

5. Randy Starks, DT, Miami: Starks, 30, is a two-time Pro Bowler, who could anchor the defensive line at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds. He was the seventh ranked defensive tackle in the league last season by profootballfocus.com. He had four sacks, six quarterback hits and 30 quarterback hurries. He’s also stout against the run.

Others prospective unrestricted free agents to watch: Malcolm Jenkins, FS, Saints; Paul Soliai, DT, Miami (played for defensive coordinator Mike Nolan in Miami); Geoff Schwartz, OG, Kansas City; Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville (played for offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in Jacksonville); Karlos Dansby, LB, Arizona (played for Nolan in Miami).

91 comments
OH
OH

@devounknown1000 - I like your ideas. Bryd at FS would improve the defense a bunch. I like Eugene Monroe for an OT spot. Last year, the Falcons picked two CBs the first two picks. This year, let's make it OT Greg Robinson, then Guard Xavier Su'a-Filo. Third round, take 6-3, 225 lb, Ole Miss speedster WR Donte Moncrief. Next, take an OLB because Weatherspoon can't be counted on to play the whole season.Get more DL help from FA.

itsslomotionbaby
itsslomotionbaby

if you ask me pters and even babinaux we can take a wiff on, they are hustlers but im getting wary waiting on them, lets get new blood in here, one lb I definitely want the falcons to look at is karlos dansby 

tyger
tyger

Really, really, nah, really???


The Falcons select Baker, Rd 1., 2008 draft... 

Suffers from various injuries/ailments...knees, elbows, back, heart, etc.

Rewarded w/ 6 yr. contract, $10M bonus, salaries: $1M in 2013,  $3.25M  in 2014...

In 2013, Baker listed with knee injury, then  foot injury, then shut down...

Didn’t play in Week 3, rested for 4 weeks, played a few snaps, then shut down...

Baker struggled all season, especially in pass blocking...


Quote:"He’d have to be fine with playing right tackle because the Falcons 

believe that Sam Baker is their left tackle."


Really??? nah, really???? C'mon man!!!!.......N please!






#1$tunna
#1$tunna

Why do these idiots want a safety and you have the worse pass rush in the NFL?  


ryesouvie
ryesouvie

Get pass rush/ offensive line help. Please don't sign and overpay for Byrd.

ryesouvie
ryesouvie

@SEEN.... You want the falcons to offer Jimmy Graham that kind of money ? The falcons would have to give up 2 first round draft picks in return to the Saints... Are you serious? If so, you are dumber than I thought..

JChikara
JChikara

I would not waste a penny on Byrd. Atlanta knows where they are weakest (offensive and defensive lines) and should spend the money to get Asamoah (OG) and potentially Geoff Schwartz. Use the first two picks in the draft on strengthening up the front seven on defense. 

RX
RX

OG Jon Asamoah is a good one that is not mentioned. 

Pioli will hopefully reel him in.

SeenThatB4
SeenThatB4

What the falcan'ts should do, if they were smart, would be to offer Jimmy Graham a 5 year, $65 million contract, fully  guaranteed, as soon as free agency started.  But, they won't do that, cause they're dimwits at Flowery Branch.

GEAUX SAINTS!!!

ATL89
ATL89

I would choose the Offensive Tackle, but Sam Baker is the X-Factor of that choice, because I don't want a guy to come in to play Right Tackle, when he has excelled at left Tackle, and wonder why he struggle at Right Tackle, when he gets here.


Quackmeyer
Quackmeyer

Seattle signed some fine FA's last year at reasonable cost.  These guys made the difference in their season.  They stayed away from the high $ guys and scouted their butts off.  That sounds like a plan my Falcons should be following with more enthusiasm.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Don't get me wrong Byrd is a good football player.

He can help any team.

Problem is he lines up as far from the Line of Scrimmage as any player on the Field.

Hair-Gel & Smitty don't have a clue.

Build your team from the Lines out.

BigHittas
BigHittas

SIGN BYRD TODAY!!!
Send out-of-position DaCoupe to the junkyard!

MikeBanning
MikeBanning

Other than Byrd, I don't want any of those guys, we should stay away from FA and build this teams through the draft.

Mike Johnson went from 11+ sacks to 3.5 sacks after Geno Atkins got injured, well, if he comes to the Falcons there will be no Geno Atkins on the DL to free MJ up to make sacks.

The same with Bennett, playing for Seattle surrounded by 10 other "beasts" on defense allows him to put up Stats for Seattle that he will never be able to put up in Atl. because he won't be surrounded by the same talent.

Be very wary of FA signings, remember what happened when Alvin Harper-WR left the Cowboys in the mid-90s.

FA signings should be plug-n-play type guys like RBs, QBs, and players like that, other than Byrd all those guys above are "system guys" and the Falcons should stay away from them.

WHY do the Falcons keep saying that Sam Baker is our LT for the foreseeable future?

If the GM for the Falcons believes that,  then we have no chance to win a SB, Baker might be the 32nd ranked starting LT among all 32 teams.

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

U have 2 ask if this is a palyer that Dummytroff wants and if he does than U have 2 say no cuz if Dummytroff want him he will be a compete bust like Donto Robersons was. 

MikeMixon
MikeMixon

All this talk about beefing up a line and here we are with an article hyping up a db. I don't want to hear another word about dbs in Atlanta until we sign some beef.

Rijker
Rijker

Also, with Tony coming off and DeCoud's presumable cut, the cap will stand at $28,848,149 for Atlanta.

welikebaseball2
welikebaseball2

For the life of me, I can't understand how knowledgable Falcons fans can continue to clamor for an OT in FA & continue to ignore the disaster that was OG. Say we spend big on an OT in FA...who do we draft or plug in that'll be ready to roll at OG for next season? Read my lips folks, with a draft deep in OT's, we are not (at least should not) signing an OT in FA. We will (at least we should) sign an OG. As bad as Baker & Holmes were at the OT position, Konz & Reynolds were worse at OG. 


And please, for the love of Ray Edwards, stay away from Michael Johnson. As a team in desperate need of difference-making pash rushers, I'll pass on a guy with only one double digit sack season.

MikeisBack
MikeisBack

Dled, glad to hear about the early contracts talks with BAB and Peters...I thought those was two guys on the DL...we had to resign...Peters kind of concerns me...because of the injuries...BUT he's a playmaker...so is BAB!

Rijker
Rijker

No mention of T.J. Ward? And you're the Falcons beat writer? Do you not pay attention to other teams or something? And no mention from Falcons "fans" about him?


Higher upside than Byrd and at far less money.

Also, in before FS/SS comments; they really have no designation in Nolan's schemes.

Dasdguy
Dasdguy

Get an O line that will protect Ryan and give him a count of 2, 3 in the pocket.  He wont last another season getting beat up.

RambleOn84
RambleOn84

On offense: 

Sign as many quality offensive linemen as possible and then draft a few to boot. We are really fine everywhere else on offense.


On defense:

Sign Michael Johnson AND draft a pass rusher at #6.  We need as much help as possible on the D-line.  While a good player like Byrd would be nice, we can afford to be average in the secondary if our front is strong.  When I say pass rusher, I'm talking an end, tackle, or linebacker.  ANYONE who can help out the pass rush.  You can get creative and move guys around in different packages, but you HAVE to have the guys who can get to the QB.

FalconJames
FalconJames

I would love to see Byrd in a Falcon uniform but I don't think it will happen. He will fetch too high of a price tag and the Falcons have too many holes to fill. 


We know that DeCoud will probably get the axe, but who else should go the chopping block?  It seem like we have so many holes that every cut we make creates a new problem.

Dman
Dman

The survey above should have a none of the above. We need two OLineman and they don't need to be the top two guys available. The 3rd and 4th best available would be a huge upgrade for our line and will save a little money. Then we can go after Defensive help. I don't think a Safety is our biggest need. We need to address the Defensive line first. My free agent want list;

3rd and 4th best OLineman in free agency

Solid defensive lineman or end in free agency

Resign Jonathan Babineaux, defensive tackle Corey Peters and center/guard Joe Hawley

Draft best defensive player available at 6th or drop down a few spots and do the same to gain a 2nd and 3rd round pick.

Dman
Dman

Thanks DLed...

#1$tunna
#1$tunna

@ryesouvie  exactly. they're clueless!! the dont wanna trade for clowney but they wanna throw dollars at a safety

JChikara
JChikara

@RX  I agree, Asamoah is the kind of grinder that the Falcons need on the O-line. If they can get at least two big men on the line in free agency that would be huge for their draft. 

Okeetee
Okeetee

@Tea-Party-Meber ....good cheap idea!  Just make sure he understands the "NO N-word" clause in his contract.....and no more jailhouse tats, too! 

Barves_Loss_Agian
Barves_Loss_Agian

@MikeBanning  U make good ponts. Remeber when they sighed Donto Roberson.....He come here and suxed the hole time. Cant get folled again buy sum of these palyer lookin 4 a pay day

MikeMixon
MikeMixon

All good points but I'm not simply referencing the lines. Remember we only have one credible linebacker too ... and he can't stay on the field. I don't care if you're Decoud, Byrd, or Ronnie Lott. If you're playing behind what we have now you will be exposed. Period.

devounknown1000
devounknown1000

@MikeMixon If you can pay Decoud 4mill why not add another 3mill to get  a top 5 Safety in the League ?


Byrd 5year 35mill is a good solid offer for Safety.


GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rijker
Rijker

@MikeMixon

When you have $28.8 million to spend, you can afford a DL/OL + DB (or any position you really want for that matter) in free agency and then address the remainder (either the DL/OL) with the #6 pick (which will be an instant starter and potential play maker). You can also resign veterans like Peters, Babs, and Hawley at reasonable prices.

So, yes, we can speculate with merit here.

JSSN
JSSN

@Rijker  

"They really have no designation in Nolan's schemes"

Is Jarius Byrd suddenly the old Ed Reed? ("3-2Jack")

JSSN
JSSN

@Tea-Party-Meber @Quackmeyer  

Last year the Cap was $10M less, a lot of players got squeezed. This year, the players know the lay of the land. The really good players in the UFA period are going to leverage that knowledge. Cheap will be problems and scrubs this time.

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

Excellent post Fish-house!!

How'd that FA spending spree work out for Miami last year?

DavidThead
DavidThead

@MikeMixon  I'd say we have 2. Worrilow is here to stay. If we can get a real MLB like we had with Lofton we should be good

JChikara
JChikara

@Rijker @MikeMixon  Glad to hear Atlanta is bringing back Peters, so they may be able to spend on getting some help up front with one DL and one OL. I just think that when it comes to Byrd he doesn't fill the immediate need. With a better defensive front seven it could help DeCoud and the rest of the secondary. It's kinda hard to cover guys consistently when there is no pass rush to put pressure on the QB. 

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75  

Like we always say: "line play dictates the ability to have a true vertical passing game!" Mike Sherman is again where he deserves to be, away from play calling! They are like the Falcons, they need to get a real offensive line!

BigCrimson75
BigCrimson75

JSS.....You're too kind to Mike Wallace!

Tannyhill is no Big Ben......His choice.

JSSN
JSSN

@BigCrimson75  

Grimes great, Wallace good, the rest (I thought I was watching a Falcons game)!

Trackbacks

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