Falcons taking record-breaking dead cap from Matt Ryan trade “on the chin”

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I’ve already seen people calling for Terry Fontenot to lose his job, which is utterly ridiculous. This new regime is essentially undoing what the previous front office did; their results shouldn’t be held against them too strictly. However, next offseason, the Falcons are looking at a fresh salary cap slate, which is where Fontenot and Smith will be heavily scrutinized.

With the league’s salary cap estimated to rise to $220-225 million in 2023, the Falcons should have between $131-136 million in cap space to work with. However, the Falcons’ 2022 season should already be considered a wash. Atlanta has over $62 million in dead money this year, with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones accounting for more than $46 million of that.

After trading Ryan to the Colts for a third-rounder, Atlanta incurred a $40.525 million dead cap hit, according to Over The Cap. Ryan’s dead money tops Carson Wentz’s $33.82 million dead cap hit the Eagles absorbed when they traded him to the Colts.

Like the 2019 Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill ($18.4 million), the 2020 Jaguars with Nick Foles ($18.8 million), and Lions with Matt Stafford ($19 million), the Falcons will now be forced to rebuild with a severe handicap. However, Fontenot knows precisely what he’s gotten himself into.

“Yeah, we’re taking it on the chin this year, but, taking it on the chin this year and now you look at where we are next year, it’s significant,” Terry Fontenot said during a Wednesday press conference. “If not, if we don’t do that, and again, we could have restructured his contract or done something with his contract and kept him this year and then we’d have still had – if we traded him after the season or if we keep him next year, then we’re still in a really tough salary cap situation.

With this, we take it on the chin this year, and it’s our job to find value in free agency and to draft well and to put a good football team on the field this year even with that dead cap. It’s an obstacle but we look at it as an opportunity, and that’s our job. We’re not making excuses about it. But us deciding to take it on the chin right now will really – it makes a significant difference for us next year [and] in the future.”

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