In a press conference Tuesday, Terry Fontenot was asked how he would improve the roster with a tight cap and so many spots to fill. To which Fontenot responded, “Everything is in consideration. We’re going to have to make some hard decisions on this roster.” This gave me the feeling there might be some surprising transactions the media and fanbase don’t see coming — particularly shocking trades of players thought to once be “untouchable,” but Fontenot completely shut down that notion. “I don’t think you’d ever be in a situation where you’d say anybody is untouchable,” he said. This is purely speculation, but here are a few players that could unexpectedly find new homes this offseason.
All figures were found on OverTheCap.
This will hurt some feelings, but Julio’s trade value might never be this high again. He has started a full 16 games just three times during his tenure with Atlanta. Moreover, the six-foot-four, 220-pound receiver has suffered injuries in almost every single season he’s played, including 13 injuries to his right foot alone. Even when Jones is on the field, he is rarely near 100% healthy, creating a rising level of concern for his on-field usage. After another season of injuries, which are bound to happen, Jones’ value will continually decline.
If Fontenot decided to trade Jones post-June 1st, the Falcons would save over $15 million against the 2021 cap. Aside from the financial reasoning, the haul of draft capital Julio would garner is almost too good not to consider. With the emergence of Calvin Ridley this past season — 100-plus receiving yards in five of seven games without Julio — trading Jones for a future first and third-round pick would be a no-brainer.
Fowler was also mentioned in my surprise cut candidates, which isn’t particularly shocking when you consider the production level he had this past season and how much he is getting paid. If Fontenot felt that Fowler wasn’t a cultural, scheme, or even value fit, cutting him might be easier than finding a trade partner to take on his contract. It could be similar to the 2017 Brock Osweiler trade between the Houston Texans and Cleveland Browns, who agreed to send a 2017 fourth-round pick to Houston in return for Osweiler, a 2017 sixth-rounder and 2018 second-round selection. I do think Fontenot would have to attach draft capital with Fowler, but no situation would call for a Falcons’ second-round pick like Osweiler’s did. Trading him post-June 1st would save Atlanta almost $14 million against the cap this year.
This might be taken divisively, but it’s just a naturally polarizing conversation when talking about one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league being traded. In a perfect world, Fontenot would extend and restructure Jarrett’s current contract, locking him into Atlanta until he’s in his early thirties. Jarrett’s a perfect 4-3 defensive tackle but is athletic and versatile like Aaron Donald. It doesn’t matter what defense they play in; they’ll be effective. So trading Jarrett would effectively signal a complete overhaul of the roster from top to bottom and require at least one first-round pick and more in return. Trading him with a post-June 1st designation would save Atlanta over $15 million against this year’s cap.
Continuing with shocking and unlikely trades, Deion Jones could be a candidate considering the depth at his position, which makes Jarrett’s trade even more unlikely. Jarrett is a much more significant building block for this defense than Debo. The trade value correlates though, Debo would likely garner less than Jarrett but still net at least a second-round pick. Trading him with a post-June 1st designation would save Fontenot and the Falcons over $8.5 million in 2021.