For as long as I can remember, the Falcons have shopped in the bargain aisle when it comes to free agency. The former regime was always cash strapped as they continually chose to hand out lucrative extensions to players already on the roster. For a little while, it worked, but eventually, many of those contracts turned sour, leaving the current regime to clean up the mess.
So far, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have done valiantly with what they’ve been given to work with. The Falcons were competitive in nearly every game this season, narrowly missing out on the postseason in a weak NFC South. That’s an accomplishment, given how much dead cap this team had coming into the year. There are reasons to believe this ship is heading in the right direction, and this offseason will be perhaps the most critical step of the new regime’s tenure.
Not only will the Falcons have the #8 pick in this year’s draft, but they will also have money to spend in free agency for the first time in forever. Following the season, Atlanta was projected to have nearly $70 million in cap space before making any moves — the second-most in the NFL.
Not including incentives or futures contracts here are our current estimates for salary cap space in 2023
1. Bears- $118M
2. Falcons- $69.9M
3. Giants- $58.2M
4. Patriots- $54.2M
5. Seahawks- $52.0M
6. Bengals- $48.9M
7. Texans- $46.7M
8. Ravens- $46.6M
— Jason_OTC (@Jason_OTC) January 9, 2023
On the final day to do so to take advantage of 2022 cap space, the Falcons accelerated $7M of OT Jake Matthews’ 2023 roster bonus onto this league year.
The Falcons created $4.2M in 2023 space as a result, per source.
Atlanta is poised to have ~$70M in cap space this offseason.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 10, 2023
Once cuts are made, the Falcons could have nearly $90 million to spend. There aren’t many players Atlanta is likely to release, but Marcus Mariota is the obvious candidate. He will not be on the roster next season, pushing that number over $80 million.
The Falcons have a few guys of their own that they need to take care of, mainly Kaleb McGary, who has set himself up for a considerable raise following his breakout campaign. However, there aren’t too many players that they must re-sign, leaving them with a lot of cash for free agency.
That doesn’t mean the Falcons will spend frivolously. Terry Fontenot has done a quality job inking free agents thus far with not much to spend, so I’m giddy to see what he can do with some more cash in his pocket. With another strong draft and free agent class, the Falcons could head into next season the favorites to win the NFC South, considering the uncertainty surrounding the rest of the division.