The NFL trade deadline is November 3rd, and it’s no secret the Falcons are headed to the top of the draft. With the roster being as bad as it is, sparse cuts may be coming in the offseason. Their current roster under contract for 2021 is already over the cap by around $30 million, so shipping off some guys to get some breathing room could prove valuable.
Many of these will be expiring deals, but the Falcons need to be hoarding draft capital for their new coach & GM to mold the roster. Alex Lord has already explored moving Julio Jones & Matt Ryan, so I’ll defer to him on that — I’m pretty indifferent on the topic anyways. In short, nobody knows what the roster will look like in 2021; nobody knows where the Falcons will draft; nobody knows what the salary cap will be; nobody knows who the coach will be, and nobody knows who the GM will be. However, with this team already in the red, moves will be coming.
DEs Fowler, Bailey
DTs Jarrett, Davidson, Cominsky, Davidson, Senat
LBs Oluokun, Jones, Walker
CBs Terrell, Sheffield, Oliver, Miller
Safeties Allen, Hawkins
— The Freshstartoholic (@TheFalcoholic) October 14, 2020
For those keeping score at home, that’s 32 guys. You need 53 guys to field a roster. I’m not going to get into the intricacies of the NFL salary cap, but there are a lot of holes to be filled. Here’s who the Falcons should be looking to move before the trade deadline:
To me, moving Alex Mack is imperative. He’s one of the best free-agent signings in Falcons history, but he likely won’t be re-signed and deserves a chance with a contender at 34 years old. I would be ecstatic to get a day two pick for him.
Takk McKinley will be a tough sell because his 5th-year option has already been declined, but if you can get anything for him — make it happen. Edge is already a need in the draft. I give it a 5% chance Keanu Neal is back next season, so moving him for what you can get is nice too. If you can come away with a few picks for these guys, no matter where they fall in the draft, it’s a win.
Players under contract for 2021:
This is where things get tricky with dead cap and post-June 1st implications, so this is under the assumption they are being traded during the OFFSEASON. These are fringe guys who may or may not be worth keeping.
Cutting Ollison is contingent on a few things. If the team brings back Brian Hill (more on him in a second), that’s three rostered RBs. Atlanta could take one in the draft, but nobody is acquiring him via trade, and a cut only saves $775k. If the Falcons are really pinching pennies, he makes sense to just let go, but I also see the value in rostering him. He has no carries in 2020.
James Carpenter has actually been better in 2020, and it will be tough to move him with Mack not returning. His cap figure is set to rise in 2021, so I’d rather go with a draft pick/free agent/Gono. If he’s traded before June 1st, his dead cap hit is only $2.4 million compared to the $6.4 he would make. If he’s traded after June 1st, the savings go to $5.25 million. Cutting him doesn’t make sense from a football standpoint.
An Allen Bailey trade would save $4.5 million before or after June 1st, and cutting him provides the same relief. In short, don’t expect him on the roster next year.
Tyeler Davison hurts; he’s a good player, but with Marlon Davidson in the fold — his contract becomes expendable. Cutting/Trading him pre-June 1st saves about $2 million and post-June 1st saves about $3 million. I think he has trade value, so this is a good move to make.
Deadrin Senat had Falcons fans very excited when he was drafted, but he’s been left out in the cold. His savings from cutting/trading aren’t even $1 million, so he’s worth rostering unless you can get a pick for him.
I’m not ready to totally give up on Isaiah Oliver, but in my opinion, if you’re offered a day 2/3 pick for him — you take it. Oliver is probably just worth rostering if there’s no trade available. Like Senat, his savings don’t even crack $1 million.
Rico is the one that, sadly, needs to be moved. You save $3.25 million trading him before June 1st and $5.25 trading him after. The secondary is just plain awful. With Neal, Kazee, and Allen gone — it’ll be up to Jaylinn Hawkins, and likely a draft pick to fill the void. Luckily, I like a lot of safeties in this class, including Jevon Holland & Andre Cisco.
Expiring Guys to Bring Back:
Nobody on this list will break the bank, and in terms of fielding a team — they’re no brainers to keep around. With Todd Gurley on pace for roughly 1,200 yards and 16 TDs, he might be in for a big new contract somewhere else. Brian Hill has been fantastic, and I’ve talked about how he needs more touches before. Matt Gono looked pretty solid in McGary’s place when he was injured and keeping a viable swing tackle is wise. For some reason, Dirk Koetter is allergic to Jaeden Graham. He has one catch on the year after averaging 15.6 YPC last season. Whatever, Koetter will be gone soon enough. Blidi Wreh-Wilson is another guy I’ve advocated giving more snaps to. He’s earned them, and at his price-tag, he’s a good stabilizer for the secondary, especially with the injuries they’ve seen. I’d also be willing to consider Darqueze Dennard on another cheap deal. Guys that fill spots like Justin McCray and LaRoy Reynolds could be back, but I’m not dying to keep them around.