Atlanta Falcons, Matt Ryan no longer hold NFL record for largest dead cap hit

NFL: AUG 04 Atlanta Falcons Training Camp

Depending on where you look, the Falcons have around $40-45 million in cap space after having the second most in the league last offseason. That’s a far cry from where they’ve been for several years prior time.

The Falcons spent $102 million on Chris Lindstrom, $64 million on Jessie Bates, $35 million on David Onyemata, and over $21 million on Kaden Elliss last offseason. That doesn’t include the acquisitions of Jonnu Smith and his substantial contract or Calais Campbell‘s near-$10 million deal.

Terry Fontenot was a busy man last offseason. Entering this year with holes at quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback, edge, and safety, he’s going to be busy again in the coming months. Moreover, A.J. Terrell is in line for a similar extension as Lindstrom.

Arthur Blank’s checkbook will be getting a workout, but again, it wasn’t always like this. Remember just a few years ago when Arthur Smith and Fontenot took over?

The new regime took over a mess of a salary cap sheet, one that featured overpriced, bloated contracts of aging veterans like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Deion Jones, and Dante Fowler. What did the new regime decide to do? Take all of that on the chin.

In the Fontenot’s first offseason, they parted ways with the greatest receiver in franchise history. The next year they moved Fowler and Deion Jones while also taking on the largest dead cap hit in league history when they traded Ryan, who accounted for more than $40 million in 2022 on the team’s cap sheet.

It was the highest mark ever… until a short time ago. The Broncos released Russell Wilson and are taking on an unprecedented $85 million in dead money, with a new record dead cap hit of nearly $50 million in 20205.

Here are the top five:

  1. Russell Wilson, Broncos, 2025: $49.6 million
  2. Matt Ryan, Falcons, 2022: $40.5 million
  3. Aaron Rodgers, Packers, 2023: $40.3 million
  4. Russell Wilson, Broncos, 2024: $35.4 million
  5. Tom Brady, Buccaneers, 2023: $35.1 million

Not only did the Falcons and Matt Ryan hold the individual record for dead cap hit, but the club came in second for total dead money, behind the Bears in 2022.

1. Chicago Bears, 2022

Dead money: $91.8 million
Biggest cap charge: Khalil Mack, $24 million

2. Atlanta Falcons, 2022

Dead money: $87.6 million
Biggest cap charge: Matt Ryan, $40.5 million

The Falcons have money to spend in 2024 and they will continue to have money to spend, especially if they find the answer to the quarterback position in the draft because a signal caller on a rookie contract is the most valuable thing in this game.

Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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