There’s no debating how limited the Falcons are financially based on the construction of the roster. Years of poor contracts and restructurings from the previous regime forced general manager Terry Fontenot to sign bargain bin free agents and players willing to take the league minimum. In fact, there aren’t a lot of options for restructuring next offseason. Only Matt Ryan, Jake Matthews, and Deion Jones are restructure candidates for 2022.
Brad Spielberger of ESPN broke down the deepest and thinnest teams, giving the Falcons the honor of being the NFL’s thinnest. His reason for picking Atlanta is due to the high percentage of cap space allocated to the top five players on the team.
Julio Jones’ $15.5 million dead cap hit is only outdone by four players on the Falcons’ roster. Next year’s team only has 29 contracted players, one of 23 teams to have less than 40 players. Additionally, Atlanta is one of four teams in the negative in regards to effective cap space (cap space when 51st player is signed).
For a direct comparison, the Chiefs and Texans join the Falcons at the bottom with both teams having 28 players to Atlanta’s 29. The difference is with the salary cap ceiling at $208.2 million — a placeholder for now as it will not be this high in actualit — both of those teams have $30.9 and $41.9 million to spend respectively. This is nearly triple the available cap the Falcons have at their disposal. The difference is the dead money.
Of the three aforementioned teams, the Chiefs have the highest total active cap spending with $180.3 million, which is about middle of the pack. This is about one million higher than Atlanta’s. However, Kansas City has the lowest dead money charge of the three, with just $308,000 — seventh lowest in the NFL.
Dead cap may not seem like a big deal but no team wants to spend a large portion of its cap space on players who aren’t even around anymore. Of the nine teams with $25 million or more in dead cap for this year, their combined record though the first six weeks is 20-33. Which averages out to about two wins per team.
The Falcons are in especially bad shape here as both of their starting safeties and edge rushers need new contracts. Plus, the team needs to re-sign kicker Younghoe Koo. We’ll see what kind of creative cap maneuvering general manager Terry Fontenot comes up with next year.
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