The Falcons and the rest of the league are less than a week away from the NFL draft. Atlanta is slotted to pick five times in the first three rounds, with nine total picks. For a roster that desperately needs an influx of talent, the Falcons will take every chance they can get to land difference-makers. However, those soon-to-be rookies will need to be paid, and as it stands, Atlanta doesn’t have the funds for those contracts.
OverTheCap estimates the Falcons will need $12.552 million to sign their 2022 draft class, which obviously assumes they make all nine selections and make any draft day trades. OTC currently has the team with just under $3.4 million in cap space, so moves will have to be made.
The Falcons can still cut Mike Davis and Kendall Sheffield to save around $5 million, but they might wait until after the draft to see if it’s even necessary. Sheffield isn’t going to break into the starting corner rotation barring any unforeseen injuries, so that seems like a no-brainer first option. However, the running back room needs Davis a little more. Unless Atlanta comes away with a running back who’s reliable in pass protection and makes an immediate impact, Davis will likely stick around.
The two moves that would create the most cap space involve Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones. The former is an extension candidate and has reportedly been in negotiations with the front office, but nothing has materialized. Jarrett could, of course, be traded, but I doubt the Falcons would ship him off unless he requested it. Either of those transactions would give the Falcons enough cap space to sign their rookie class and have an emergency fund for the season.
Trading Jones after June 1st would accomplish the same thing but would obviously be better getting his contract off the books. However, I don’t see that happening. It’s too late in the offseason to trade away a starter; it would leave the linebacker position extremely thin. All of that doesn’t matter if the Falcons somehow come away with Devin Lloyd or Nakobe Dean, but those are long odds.
I’m not sure how the Falcons will create the cap space needed to sign their draft class, but I’m sure their preference would be to make the space via Jarrett’s contract extension.