Falcons: Darqueze Dennard’s contract leaves the door open for more free agents

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The Falcons made a substantial signing last week, inking veteran cornerback Darqueze Dennard to a one-year deal. Yesterday, the details of that contract were revealed, and it’s only worth $910,000 — quite a bargain for a player who is likely going to start in the slot for Atlanta.

It’s unclear why Dennard’s value plummeted during free agency. Earlier in the offseason, he signed a three-year contract with the Jaguars worth $13.5 million in total, with $6 million guaranteed. There are no rumors of any health concerns, so if he is indeed 100%, this is a slam dunk signing by Thomas Dimitroff and the Falcons front office, filling their most glaring hole on the defensive side of the ball and adding a veteran presence to their cornerback group. It also leaves the door open for more potential signings, and we saw one yesterday, as the Falcons re-signed safety J.J. Wilcox.

Wilcox is a quality depth signing for Atlanta’s secondary, and he’ll likely make somewhere around the veteran minimum. Before the Falcons signed Dennard, they had around $8.5 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap. Assuming Wilcox’s deal is worth less than $1 million, they still have about $6 or $7 million in cap space for 2020.

The Falcons may want to hold onto that cash, though. Without fans (or with limited fans), the league is set to lose boatloads of revenue, which will lead to a sharp decline in the cap for years to come. We’ve already seen teams, like the Bills with Stefon Diggs, offset that by moving cap from future seasons up to this year. Remember, cap space that isn’t used this year will roll over to 2021. However, with a GM and coach on the hot seat, that might not be their number one priority.

Following the signing of Dennard, the Falcons are looking pretty complete on both sides of the ball. Their starting offense could feature 11 former first-round picks, and their defense has stars at all three levels with several players that could be on the verge of a breakout, but that side of the ball still could use at least one more piece, preferably a pass rusher.

Dante Fowler was a high-quality addition, and he will surely be an upgrade over Vic Beasley. But Atlanta’s pass rush was non-existent too often last season. It doesn’t have to be (and won’t be) a star, like Jadeveon Clowny, but just one more reliable veteran piece could do wonders. Along with aiding Grady Jarrett, Takk McKinley, Marlon Davidson, and Dante Fowler, it would also take more pressure off Atlanta’s secondary, which — even after the addition of Dennard — is far from infallible.

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