The Falcons had the second-most cap space entering last offseason, and Terry Fontenot spent it.
Atlanta brought in a haul of free agents, headlined by Jessie Bates, David Onyemata, Kaden Elliss, and Calais Campbell. They also extended Chris Lindstrom, making him the highest paid guard in the league.
Moreover, about $26 million of Atlanta’s salary cap is comprised of dead money, almost half of which is from Deion Jones. Entering the 2024 offseason, that will be coming off the books, setting the club up to be big spenders once again.
As of right now, Over The Cap has the Falcons sitting with around $50 million in cap space, which could be about $10 million higher if Atlanta moves on from Taylor Heinicke and Mike Hughes. It’s making for another exciting free agency period for fans, and the upcoming class is star-studded. Here are some of ESPN’s top 25 that could interest the Falcons.
Some of these guys will sign new contracts or franchise tags, so there’s no guarantee they’re available for the Falcons.
1. Brian Burns, EDGE, Carolina Panthers
You don’t have to look very far down the list for a potential target. The Falcons inquired about the availability of Brian Burns at the trade deadline, but the Panthers turned everyone away. After posting 12.5 sacks in 2022, he’s got five this season but the production isn’t as important as the traits.
Burns is an elite pass rusher in every sense of the word and will garner north of $20 million per year. It’s expected that Carolina will franchise tag Bruns at $22 million and then try to work out an extension. It’s a long shot for the Falcons to acquire Burns, but a guy can dream.
3. Kirk Cousins, QB, Minnesota Vikings
This one is much more realistic. Before he tore his Achilles in Week 8, Kirk Cousins was completing nearly 70% of his passes with an 18 to 5 touchdown to interception ratio. His current contract makes a franchise tag impossible, so he will hit the open market, which is why this is a much more attainable free agent for the Falcons. Fowler even included Atlanta as a landing spot.
“Multiple people I’ve talked to around the league consider Atlanta a sensible spot for Cousins.” — Fowler
5. Danielle Hunter, EDGE, Minnesota Vikings
Danielle Hunter very well could be the top free agent in this class. He leads the league with 11 sacks and is just entering his prime. A deal in the ballpark of Montez Sweat is what the Falcons are looking at if they’re intrigued about the possibility of adding a difference-making pass rusher.
6. Tee Higgins, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Tee Higgins is a borderline WR1 in this league, recording 21 touchdowns over four seasons, along with two 1,000-yard seasons. It will be difficult for the Bengals to keep Higgins, and the Falcons have a need for another wideout to pair with Drake London.
7. L’Jarius Sneed, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
If the Falcons decide not to re-sign Jeff Okudah, L’Jarius Sneed would be an excellent replacement. He’s a scheme-versatile corner that can play man as Ryan Nielsen prefers. Moreover, he has played on the boundary and slot, so it gives Atlanta’s defense flexibility.
14. Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Drake London has been described as a younger Mike Evans. Why not pair the two in Atlanta? Not only would Evans be an excellent addition to the Falcons receiving core, but it would be even sweeter that he came from a division rival. It’s hard to see him playing anywhere other than Tampa Bay, though.
23. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
Pittman is a physical pass catcher who can also create vertical stress on the defense from the slot. The Falcons could do much worse to find a WR2 of the caliber of Michael Pittman to pair with Drake London.
Photographer: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire