The Falcons waited patiently before striking a deal over 24 hours after the league-wide legal tampering period began, signing offensive guard Jamon Brown from the Giants to a three-year deal. Moments later, the team inked a four-year contract with another guard from New York, James Carpenter.
These deals came only hours after General Manager Thomas Dimitroff told ESPN’s Vaughn Mcclure that he does not view the Falcons cap situation as “dire” like most people are making it out to be.
Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said the team’s cap situation isn’t as “dire” as made out to be. Said team has flexibility to make moves
— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 12, 2019
That flexibility to maneuver around contracts to give the Falcons more cap space was first demonstrated yesterday morning when the team turned $8.75 million of Matt Ryan’s base salary into a signing bonus. The move saved the Falcons $7 million for 2019, leaving them with nearly $14 million available to spend this offseason.
Ian Rapoport reported that the deal for Brown will be for $18 million over three years and Carpenter’s will be four years for $21.5 million. It’s not yet known what the structures of those deals look like, but it’s safe to say the moves will knock off at least $8 million of the Falcons remaining cap space, leaving Dimitroff pinching pennies once again. If the Falcons want to make another move – like bringing back Bruce Irvin – they are going to have to get creative once again.
So how can they do that?
The most accessible place for the Falcons to turn next is Grady Jarrett – who is currently franchise-tagged and set to make $15.2 million in 2019 – which is over 8% of the total cap space. If Dimitroff can come to terms with Jarrett on a long-term extension, the Falcons would likely save a nice chunk of change by moving his higher base salary numbers towards the end of the deal. However, with Jarrett looking for Aaron Donald money, coming to an agreement is easier said than done.
The Falcons could pull something similar with Julio Jones. Jones will want to be the highest paid receiver in the league – as he should be – but that does not mean the Falcons cannot lower his cap hit this season through creative tweaks.
Atlanta also may not be done making cuts. Since Ryan Schraeder has made it this far, it appears his job is safe for now, but the Falcons could save $6.4 million by making him a post-June 1st cut rather than doing it today and saving closer to $4 million. If Atlanta chooses not to let him go altogether, they could restructure his contract at the very least.
Mohammed Sanu and Brandon Fusco are other names to watch out for. Cutting Sanu would be a lamented move by the fan base. However, Julio Jones and the emergence of Calvin Ridley make Sanu somewhat expendable at his current cap number of $7.65 million, but if that were going to happen, it likely already would have. Fusco is scheduled to make close to $5 million in 2019, and only $1.5 million of that would count against the Falcons by releasing him before June 1st. The additions of both Carpenter and Brown would make Fusco a pricey backup.
Any post-June 1st cuts (each team is allowed two of them) will save the Falcons more money, but it will not be useful in free agency – only for signing draft picks and injury replacements that occur during the season.