Thankfully, the salary cap is projected to be substantially higher in 2021 than originally expected. With — hopefully — another increase coming in 2022 and some restructures & cuts on the horizon, the Falcons can spend more in free agency than a lot of fans think. I already talked about bringing one Denver Bronco in Jurrell Casey to Atlanta, but what about the man who lines up next to him?
Shelby Harris is among the most underrated defensive linemen in the entire NFL — especially as a pass rusher. He ranks third in pass rush and rush win rate since 2018. As Chase pointed out earlier this offseason and as Alex reiterated after the Super Bowl, the Falcons have to beef up their defensive line if they want to make a quick turnaround back to the playoffs in 2021. As of now, Grady Jarrett is the only constant. There’s hope that guys like John Cominsky, Marlon Davidson, and even Dante Fowler Jr. will provide much more next season, but even then, that’s not enough. The Falcons have to make upgrading their defensive line a priority this offseason, and adding a known commodity like Harris would go a long way in doing so. Not only is he a fantastic player, he’s a natural scheme fit in Dean Pees’ defense.
PFF projects Harris’ next contract to be around three years, $33.375 million. The Falcons can comfortably fit that into their cap sheet while still adding a guy like Desmond King ($5.83 million projected AAV) to help out the secondary. Harris’ position isn’t considered a premium, but as we saw in the Super Bowl, the game is won up front. His stats may not be sexy, but that won’t matter when the team is racking up victories.
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