Given the Falcons’ standing with the salary cap, Terry Fontenot will have to approach free agency this offseason much like he did during his first at the helm, seeking short-term, team-friendly deals. This spring, Atlanta’s financial situation won’t be quite as restrictive as it was last year, but the team still isn’t in great shape.
According to Over the Cap, the Falcons are about $12.5 million over the league’s cap for 2022. That means there will have to be adjustments made to contracts on the books. There are a few avenues the front office can take, which I have outlined in a different article. In a best-case scenario, trading Matt Ryan would net $23.750 million in savings, Grady Jarrett would net $16.5 million in savings, Deion Jones would save $14.707 million, and trading Calvin Ridley would save the team $11.116 million.
Realistically, the Falcons might deal away one of those contracts, so they’ll have to generate cap space in multiple ways. Extensions and cuts are two other avenues the Falcons can take if they choose. Jarrett is a prime candidate for extension while cutting Tyeler Davison, Kendall Sheffield, and Mike Davis would total around $8.84 million in savings.
Restructuring contracts is another option, but that strategy is exactly what got the Falcons in this mess in the first place. Still, it is effective in creating space while not having to part ways with a player. Over The Cap has a wonderful tool to explore this exact method of creating cap space. They demonstrate using two variations of restructures:
A simple restructure converts payments into prorated signing bonuses within the confines of the remainder of the contract. Teams typically have the ability to unilaterally execute simple restructures without any action necessary from the player.
A maximum restructure increases the amount of cap space via conversion into prorated signing bonuses by either extending the contract or by adding void years to a contract, years that do not extend the contract but are only used as placeholders for the proration. Maximum restructures are typically considered a renegotiation of the contract that requires the player’s consent to execute.
Using only simple restructures, the Falcons can create almost $13 million in cap space. However, the intriguing figures come when using max restructures. According to OTC, the Falcons can generate $53.9 million in cap space using this method.
Even though that seems like a lot, the Falcons are actually in a position to create the fourth-least amount of cap space using this method. This makes sense given the high-priced players entering contract years—Grady Jarrett and Calvin Ridley. Still, the exercise is useful to demonstrate that creating cap space is a relatively easy thing to do in the short term. Obviously, restructuring these deals will just kick the can down the road. Don’t expect the Falcons to use this route unless it is absolutely necessary.