Falcons

Falcons: To cut or to keep?

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Robert Alford

Alford followed up perhaps his best season in 2017 with one of his worst seasons in 2018 and is entering the part of his contract where he is very easy to part ways with. He will be owed $9.1 million next season and can be cut for $1.2 million. I don’t see any way the Falcons head into 2019 paying Alford $9.1 million. The only way he will be on the roster is if he can work out a restructure of his contract.

Quinn did continue to stick with Alford over rookie cornerback Isaiah Oliver despite his struggles. That is a promising sign, and it did not help that the Falcons were not able to generate a pass rush the majority of the season. When the pass rush did show some life both Alford and Trufant played significantly better. The problem is the words “pay cut” are not going to be something Alford is keen on hearing, which likely means he will be in a new uniform next year.

Cut 

Vic Beasley Jr. 

The Falcons opted to take on Beasley’s fifth-year last offseason for just over $12.8 million, but that money is not fully guaranteed until the official start of the 2019 season which is March 13th. The Falcons can evaluate the draft and free agent options and then decide whether to cut Beasley over the next three months.

Per Vaughn Mcclure of ESPN, Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn both believe Beasley still has upside. Dimitroff says, “… Vic, we’re in the same mold right now. We’re looking at all of our personnel and we’re making sure that everyone fits in with what we’re expecting into the future. I thought Vic came on well as the season progressed, continued to get up and around showing his athleticism and his ability. Need to continue to work on that, obviously. We’re confident that he can continue to grow as a football player.”

While it’s clear Dimitroff has faith that Beasley can return to his Pro-Bowl days, there is nothing there that sells the fact that the Falcons are planning on re-signing him. The truth is Beasley finished with a 42.2 grade according to Pro Football Focus, the worst among all edge rushers in the NFL. Through ten weeks of the season (nine games), he only had seven tackles, and this was a player who played the most snaps among all edge rushers for Atlanta.

He did finish the year off strong, but he was still far from anything worth $13 million. The Falcons will cut Beasley this offseason and allocate that money elsewhere.

Cut

Ryan Schraeder

Schraeder has become one of the staples of the offensive line over the last few years but fell off a cliff in 2018, which saw him replaced by Ty Sambrailo. That tells you just how bad it was.

Dan Quinn hinted towards some major changes to the offensive line in an interview with 92.9 The Game, saying, “I’m comfortable at C (Alex Mack) and LT (Jake Mathews), past that, you scrub every bit of it.” Schaeder is owed $7.75 million next year and the Falcons can save nearly $4 million by cutting him.

This is not a conversation most people expected to have this time last year. Schraeder appeared to be a solid part of the future of the offensive line with three years remaining on his five-year deal. Prior to 2019, he was a really solid player, and there are not many quality options available in free agency. The Falcons could opt to draft a tackle, but they have much graver needs than replacing Schraeder. I see Schraeder on the roster next season.

Keep 

Brooks Reed

Brooks Reed has quietly been with the Falcons for the last four seasons, ever since Dan Quinn arrived. He’s been a solid rotational piece of the defensive line and had a pretty fantastic 2017, recording 39 tackles and four sacks. However, he only had 24 tackles and one sack this season and will be owed close to $5.5 million in 2019, the highest cap hit of his entire contract. The Falcons can save $4.5 million by letting him go and that is likely what will happen.

Cut

Brandon Fusco

The Falcons were hopeful Fusco could come in and help solidify the offensive line, whose one glaring weakness was at the guard spot in 2017. Unfortunately, that never became the case, as Fusco was never more than a mid-level replacement and then hit Injured-Reserve with a severe right ankle injury.

Quinn will be looking to possibly replace both offensive guards this offseason. If he does find someone he likes, look for Fusco to be cut. The Falcons will be $3.3 million richer by letting him hit free agency.

Cut

Duke Riley

This one doesn’t have as much to do with saving money as it does with performance. As Riley enters his third year in the NFL, he is set to earn less than a million dollars in 2019. The Falcons attempted to double-down on slightly undersized, speedy linebackers from LSU by taking Riley the year after selecting Deion Jones, but Riley just hasn’t progressed the same way Jones has, and it doesn’t look like he ever will. With Foyesade Oluokon now in the mix for a possible starting role next year, it’s best for both sides that they move on.

Cut

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