What did Dan Quinn learn during his first season with the Falcons? The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter and CineSport’s Brian Clark discuss the Falcons’ biggest needs in the offseason.
1. NO PAY CUT FOR WHITE: The Falcons all-time leading wide receiver Roddy White told multiple outlets that he is not interested in taking a pay cut to return. His production dropped drastically from 80 catches in 2014 to 43 last season.
But coach Dan Quinn seemed to appreciate the intangibles that White brought to the team. White was a team leader and personifies the grit and toughness that Quinn preaches about.
“The leadership has been so strong, in terms of the attitude of setting forth and supporting one another,” Quinn said. “I’m sure it’s always been there, but maybe I recognized it more over the last couple weeks when we were in a tough spot. He was a significant factor of the mindset, toughness, and attitude to go, so that’s really where my focus is on him right now.”
White, who will turn 35 in November, has two years left on his contract. He has been under 1,000 yards receiving for the past three seasons. White signed a four-year, $30 million contract on July 24, 2014. He’s set to make $2.75 million plus a $1.5 million roster bonus in 2016 and $3 million plus a $1.5 million roster bonus in 2017. White has a cap number of $6.137,500 for 2016. If he’s traded or cut before June 1, the Falcons would have $3.775,000 in 2016 dead cap, with a savings of $2.542 million, according to spotrac.com which did an early look at potential 2016 salary cap casualties. If he’s traded or cut post June 1, the Falcons would have $1,887,500 in dead cap money with a $4.249 savings. Basically, if the Falcons sign receivers in free agency or draft one in the first or second round, White becomes expendable post-June 1.
2. SOLIAI ALSO ON CASUALTY LIST: Falcons nose tackle Paul Soliai is cut or traded after June 1, the Falcons would have $1.9 million in dead cap space in 2016 and $2.8 million in 2017. The team would save $5 million.
3. W.A.R. A PROSPECTIVE CASUALTY, TOO: Falcons safety William Moore is also on the list. If traded or cut after June 1, the Falcons would have $1.65 million in dead cap in 2016 and $1.65 million in 2017. The team would save $4.8 million in 2016.
4. KICKING CENTRAL: Quinn was noncommittal when asked about his kicking situation. He doesn’t want to cut Bryant over an injury, while Shayne Graham came off the streets and did an admirable job. But if Bryant is cut post June 1, the save $2.05 million against the cap in 2016. They would have dead money of $1.3 million in 2016 and $333,334 in 2017.
5. TOP 10 SALARY CAP NUMBERS FOR 2016: The Falcons will have some salary cap casualties over the offseason. They normally come from this list of the Top 10 Players with the highest salary cap number. The likely targets are in bold. Here’s the Falcons list for 2016:
- Matt Ryan, $23.7 million
- Julio Jones, $15.9 million
- Paul Soliai, $6.9 million
- William Moore, $6.6 million
- Tyson Jackson, $6.3 million
- Roddy White, $6.1 million
- Adam Levitre, $5.3 million
- Jake Matthews, $4.4 million
- Devin Hester, $3.8 million
- Brooks Reed, $3.4 million
6. RESERVE/FUTURES DEALS: Wide receiver C.J. Goodwin (California, Pa.), running back Gus Johnson (Stephen F. Austin), offensive guard Collin Rahrig (Indiana) and quarterback Matt Simms (Tennessee) were signed to reserve/future deals as the Falcons start to fix their offseason roster. Rahrig is intriguing. He blocked for Tevin Coleman at Indiana. “I was real happy to see him,” Coleman said after Rahrig was signed. “He just snuck up on me. I was real surprised to see his face. That made me smile a little bit.” He was on the line that pave the way for Coleman’s 2,000-yard season. “He’s real good,” Coleman said. “He’s tough and he’s physical. He’ll go all the way until the whistle. That’s what I love about him.”
7. SMITTY INTERVIEWED WITH THE DOLPHINS: Former Falcons coach Mike Smith, the winningest coach in franchise history, interviewed for the head coaching opening with the Miami Dolphins, the team confirmed. Smith went 66-46 with the Falcons and posted five consecutive winning seasons from 2008 to 2012 and took the Falcons to the NFC championship game. He was fired after going 4-12 and 6-10 as the team’s lack of talent along the lines was exposed.
8. SENIOR BOWL: The next big function for the Falcons will be Senior Bowl week, which is set for Jan. 26 through the game on Jan. 30. Quinn didn’t like how his lines were pushed around at times last season. Also, they have to protect Matt Ryan better. Might as well start scouting the linemen on both sides of the ball. Here’s the list of accepted invites.
9. MAILBAG: Got this nice email from Larry in DeKalb. Subject line: “You Are A True Psychic! Hello, About 3 months ago , I emailed you saying the Falcons would go 9/7 and make the playoffs. Thankfully I did not put any money on it! You said in your reply that the Falcons would go 8/8 which is exactly how their season ended. On the bright side, the team was better than last season. On the sour side, expectations for this team were much higher than 8 wins/8 losses. Come next fall, I will pay more attention to your sports column. Happy New Year, Larry in Dekalb.”
FALCONS END OF SEASON STORIES