The Falcons have thoroughly spurned fans the past week. Atlanta’s brass alienated a portion of the fan base by pursuing Deshaun Watson because of the sexual assault allegations he’s facing. But by failing to actually land him, the Falcons managed to anger the other half of the fan base.
The fallout with Matt Ryan is an entirely different mess, too. Once Atlanta’s front office lost their leverage, any suitor knew they could fleece them, which resulted in a measly third-round pick in return — mind you, Mohamed Sanu netted a second-rounder.
I understand the circumstances surrounding the two respective trades are entirely different, but the Falcons continue to disappoint their fan base. They find a new way to do it every day. I have seen calls for Terry Fontenot’s job, which I must admit are ridiculous. This new regime is essentially undoing what the former regime did; their results shouldn’t be held against them too strictly. However, next offseason, the Falcons are looking at a fresh salary cap slate, which is where Fontenot and Smith will be heavily scrutinized.
All contract figures courtesy of Over The Cap
The Falcons’ top five most expensive contracts on the books in 2023 are Jake Matthews ($22.4 million), Deion Jones ($18.476 million), Kyle Pitts ($8.795 million), A.J. Terrell ($4.551 million), and Younghoe Koo ($4.75 million). The team’s total cap liabilities are estimated to be just under $89 million next offseason, which puts them in a position to be big spenders come the spring of 2023.
With the league’s salary cap estimated to rise to $220-225 million in 2023, the Falcons should have between $131-136 million in cap space. That is a lot of dough, and the Falcons will need it — I’m not sure there’s a worse roster in the league. The Falcons 2022 season should already be considered a wash. Atlanta has over $62 million in dead money this year, with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones accounting for more than $46 million.
Looking forward to next season, the Falcons can create even more cap space by addressing Deion Jones’ contract. Given Jones’ decline in production, it wouldn’t be out of the question to see his last season in a Falcons uniform come in 2022.
The new era of Falcons football is here, and we are in its infancy stage. Fontenot and Smith can’t be adequately judged in 2022, but what they do in 2023 and beyond will really cement their legacy (or lack thereof). One thing is certain; they’ll have a slew of money to spend in free agency next offseason to truly get the roster to a competitive point.
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