Potential cut candidates around NFL that could interest Falcons in free agency

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The Falcons will be big players in free agency. With about $56 million in cap space, money won’t be why Atlanta doesn’t land a potential target. That figure could even rise to nearly $70 if the team parts ways with Marcus Mariota. It’s a good thing the Falcons have all those resources because the roster desperately needs a talent injection. Here are some cut candidates around the league that could interest Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith:

Corey Davis

Davis hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status as the #5 overall selection and the top receiver off the board, but he’s still a productive player. Moreover, his best season came in 2020 with the Titans, when Arthur Smith was the offensive coordinator in Tennessee. Davis hauled in 65 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and five scores that year.

Davis parlayed that into a three-year contract with the Jets worth $37.5 million but hasn’t produced quite as the team had hoped. New York can save over $10 million against the cap if they cut him, and it’s been confirmed by The Athletic’s Zack Rosenblatt the Jets  “are operating under the assumption that Corey Davis will be a cap casualty.” He fits Atlanta’s system, and the Falcons need a more talented option opposite Drake London.

Carl Lawson

It’s a foregone conclusion that the Jets will release Corey Davis, but the same cannot be said for Lawson. The Jets love him and want him to return in 2023. However, SNY’s Connor Hughes reported that Lawson “obviously won’t be back with a $15.4 million cap hit.” There are two options — outright release him or re-work his contract.

If it’s the former, the Falcons make a ton of sense as a landing spot. Lawson was very productive in 2022 coming off a torn Achilles, logging 49 quarterback pressures and seven sacks. Atlanta has to add to edge defenders, and a talent like Lawson would do wonders for the respective development of Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone.

Frank Clark

After recording just six sacks during the regular season, Clark came up big in the postseason, recording three sacks through the first two rounds. He still has juice. In that same breath, his 2022 campaign probably wasn’t what he wanted. Per PFF: “he had a regular season quarterback pressure rate below 10%, ranking 83rd out of 130 edge defenders with at least 100 pass-rush snaps.”

Unless the two sides re-work his contract again, Clark will likely be released, and we will know soon. $10 million of his $20.5 million 2023 salary becomes guaranteed on the first of the new league year.

William Jackson III

Jackson signed a three-year, $40.5 million contract in 2021 but has struggled since he joined Washington. He was even benched in Week 5. NFL Network reported he wanted out of Washington, but he denied such rumors. Well, Jackson ended up being moved at the trade deadline to Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, he was quickly placed on the injured reserve. The Steelers did give up assets to acquire him, so they could be motivated to re-work his deal, but if Jackson is unwilling, he could be a cap casualty.

Photographer: Bailey Hillesheim/Icon Sportswire
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