June 1st is approaching, which is always an intriguing benchmark in the NFL offseason. Teams will trade and cut players for salary cap purposes, sparking another minor wave of free agency and player movement. Ever since 2006, salary cap casualties have become more and more common because of a provision that allows teams to release two players to get the salary off the books at the time of the release, outside of guaranteed money.
The Falcons have their own June 1st situation to deal with in Deion Jones, who has been said to be a trade or cut candidate. However, the topic of this article is another player set to be released in about a week. Matt Barrows of The Athletic reports the 49ers are planning on cutting Dee Ford next month.
San Francisco added Kerry Hyder and Kemoko Turay, re-signed Jordan Willis, and drafted Drake Jackson this offseason, making Ford expendable. Per Over the Cap, he no longer has any guaranteed money remaining on his contract. A post-June 1 designation would cost the 49ers $5.82 million in dead money this season and in 2023, and then $920,000 from 2024 through 2026.
It’s been a contract that has bogged the 49ers down for years, and releasing Ford with a post-June 1st designation will save the team $1.12 million in cap space this year and $2.76 million in 2023. Ford hasn’t played a full season since 2018, when he was with the Chiefs — a year in which he had 13 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, and seven forced fumbles, leading to a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Over the three seasons Ford has spent in San Fran, he has only appeared in 18 out of a possible 49 regular season games, totaling 9.5 sacks. He’s aging poorly; however, he should still be able to provide veteran leadership for the young EDGE room in Atlanta.
The Falcons doubled up on pass rushers in the draft by selecting Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone while adding Lorenzo Carter during free agency. Atlanta’s pass rush unit totaled a league-low 18 sacks in 2021, less than T.J. Watt (22.5) and Robert Quinn (18.5) had individually. Though the re-tooling of the group has begun, there’s still much left to be desired.
The Falcons should be able to afford Ford, who is likely to garner a one-year, mercenary-esque deal. Atlanta is dealing with an insane amount of dead money this year, $63 million in total, with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones accounting for more than $55 million of that. The Falcons incurred a $40.525 million dead cap hit when they traded Ryan to the Colts, which topped Carson Wentz’s $33.82 million dead cap hit the Eagles absorbed when they traded him to Indy a year ago.
Despite that insane dead cap figure, the Falcons have a decent chunk of cap space after recent contract extensions with Jake Matthews and Grady Jarrett. Atlanta desperately needs a starting-caliber guard, and the interior defensive front needs bolstering, but I wouldn’t necessarily be against adding Dee Ford to the inexperienced EDGE unit.