This is a deep free-agent class, and the Falcons absolutely have to nail this one if they plan to compete in 2021. With the fourth pick in the draft, nailing free agency opens up even more options like selecting a future franchise quarterback or trading back. I have a lot of names that I like, but how much money can the Falcons spend? You can read about how the Falcons can create some cap space, and with the salary cap being announced at a disappointing $182.5 million — that number could sit around $37 million at best. That is if they choose to max restructure all of their top contracts, including Dante Fowler Jr.
The cap will rise significantly following the 2021 season. Over the Cap projects it will be $227.5 million, which should make locking some of these guys up and using mass restructures a lot more palatable. For now, I’ll stick to a $37 million budget; this is just my ideal free-agent class anyways.
*All contract projections are via PFF and Over the Cap
RB Jamaal Williams (two years, $6 million — $3 million AAV)
TE Mo Alie-Cox (two years, $6 million — $3 million AAV)
C David Andrews (three years, $18 million — $6 million AAV)
IDL Shelby Harris (three years, $33 million — $11 million AAV)
EDGE Romeo Okwara (three years, $18 million — $6 million AAV)
CB/S Desmond King II (three years, $18 million — $6 million AAV)
S Malik Hooker (one year, $2 million — $2 million AAV)
Obviously, these estimates aren’t perfect, but this clocks in right at $37 million, and it could be much less if Terry Fontenot elects to backload several of these deals. The Falcons can address almost every single position of need in this insanely talented free-agent class. I tried to squeeze Cam Sutton in there, but the cap coming in lower than I expected means he had to be cut from the list.
Jamaal Williams is a bruising back, and he averaged over four yards per carry last season and compliments Ito Smith well. It also allows Atlanta to avoid spending a premium pick on a running back. Alex has talked about Mo Alie-Cox before, and his athletic profile and blocking ability are just way too perfect at that price. David Andrews will cost a pretty penny, but he is one of the most all-around balanced centers on the market.
I’ve been high on Shelby Harris all offseason; he is my dream addition. The former Denver Bronco is supremely talented as an interior pass rusher and fantastic against the run as well. That’s a hefty price tag for an interior defender, but he would create nightmares next to Grady Jarrett and Marlon Davidson.
Romeo Okwara is a bargain at $6.5 million per season and would thrive in Dean Pees’ defense after notching 61 pressures in 2020. I talked about Desmond King II being a perfect addition. His ability to play in the slot and safety makes him an ideal fit in Atlanta’s new scheme. Malik Hooker is also a supremely talented safety but has yet to stay healthy. As a low-cost, high-reward option, the Falcons could do much worse. You would be taking a gamble by leaving safety a little vulnerable, but they’re a dime a dozen, and this is a good draft class.
With these additions, this team, especially defensively, is much better as a whole, and we aren’t even accounting for the Falcons’ extensive draft class. Adding a free-agent class like this and nailing the 2021 draft will have Atlanta back into the playoffs in year one under Arthur Smith.
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