Falcons salary cap health drastically improved this offseason

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When the new regime took over in Atlanta, they inherited quite the mess on the books. Thomas Dimitroff handed Terry Fontenot bloated contracts that were always going to have to come off the books. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Deion Jones, Dante Fowler, Ricardo Allen, Allen Bailey, James Carpenter, Jamon Brown, and others were all weighing the new regime down.

Fontenot chose to cut bait and take the dead cap on the chin. With the league’s salary cap estimated to rise to $220-225 million in 2023, the Falcons should have between $131-136 million in cap space to work with. Atlanta has over $63 million in dead money this year, with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones accounting for more than $55 million of that.

After trading Ryan to the Colts for a third-rounder, the Falcons incurred a $40.525 million dead cap hit, which topped Carson Wentz’s $33.82 million dead cap hit the Eagles absorbed when they traded him to the Colts a year ago.

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.

Still, the Falcons can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After recent extensions with Grady Jarrett and Jake Matthews, Atlanta locked down two important pieces in the trenches while creating some cap space this year. The books are pretty clean in the future, and the last piece of business for Fontenot has to be ridding the team of Deion Jones’ contract.

Despite that horrid contract, the Falcons have a healthy salary cap outlook. Brad Spielberger of PFF quantified the league’s cap health, and Atlanta ranked 18th.

Spielberger used five categories:

  • 1. Active Draft Capital (how many rookie contract players you have and where they were selected)
  • 2. 2022-24 Effective Cap Space
  • 3. Total Prorated Money (want to be low)
  • 4. Top 51 roster valuation (Browns #1)
  • 5. 2023 UFA valuation (want to be low)

Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire

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