Falcons set up to be big spenders in free agency

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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.

That number is actually higher now after the Falcons accelerated Jake Mathews’ 2023 roster bonus, freeing up $4.2 million in 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.

 

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