Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot are slowly but surely ridding the Falcons of every trace of the Thomas Dimitroff era. By trading Deion Jones over the weekend, the new regime has officially closed the books on that era of Falcons football.
In Dan Quinn’s final year, the Falcons boasted a roster made up of Matt Ryan, Todd Gurley, Julio Jones, Alex Mack, James Carpenter, Dante Fowler, Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, Foye Olukoun, and Ricardo Allen. Their 2022 roster now features none of those players.
Fontenot has been hard at work — trading two franchise pillars in Ryan and Jones, as well as parting ways with once-lucrative contracts like Fowler, Jones, and Allen. When the new regime took over in Atlanta, they inherited quite the mess on the books. Dimitroff handed Fontenot bloated contracts that were always going to have to be dealt with.
Atlanta is carrying around an insane amount of dead money because of those moves, which Fontenot described as taking it on on the chin. First and foremost, Ryan’s $40.525 million dead cap figure is the largest in league history and is joined by Julio Jones’ $15.5 million, Fowler’s $4.666 million, and a few others to total an eye-popping $63.2 million — that’s without accounting for Deion Jones’ massive dead figure too, which has yet to be updated on OverTheCap.
Regardless of how the Falcons did it, they were always going to have to eat a ton of dead money. And the new regime knew it. “We knew it was going to be brutal for two years on the cap, no matter how we did it,” Smith told Jeff Schultz of The Athletic.
The organization has the least amount of cap dollars allocated to active players on the roster and nearly $20 million less than the second-to-last Browns. Fontenot has essentially been working with one hand tied behind his back, ridding the Falcons’ cap sheet of the bloated, overpriced contracts he inherited from the former regime.
Still, the Falcons can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After the recent extensions of Grady Jarrett and Jake Matthews, Atlanta locked down two essential pieces in the trenches while creating some cap space this year. Despite inheriting the contracts of Jarrett and Matthews, the Falcons felt they were key pieces of the future. Atlanta has now cleaned out their cap sheet, but the effects will still be felt for years to come as dead money from a bevy of former Falcons will be on the books down the road.
Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire