Salary cap saving moves the Falcons can make

NFL: SEP 17 Packers at Falcons

With free agency about a month away, the Falcons are assessing their current roster with the new coaching staff under Raheem Morris and Terry Fontenot’s front office.

Housekeeping measures will have to be taken, like Kyle Pitts’ fifth-year option, as well as impending free agents like Calais Campbell, but there should also be some attrition to improve their standing with the salary cap and remove unnecessary pieces.

Moreover, there’s more than one way to skin a cat. The Falcons don’t have to just cut players to increase cap space; restructures are also possible. Here are some plausible cap-saving moves.

All figures from Spotrac


Jonnu Smith (saves $6.5 million)
Taylor Heinicke (saves $6.52 million)
Lorenzo Carter (saves $3.75 million)
Mike Hughes (saves $3.095 million)


Jake Matthews (saves $9.52 million)
Grady Jarrett (saves $7.02 million)
Chris Lindstrom (saves $9.1 million)
Jessie Bates (saves $7.9 million)
David Onyemata (saves $3.645 million)

Total Savings

$57 million

Total Cap Space

$81.4 million

Taylor Heinicke’s savings feel like a foregone conclusion. The Falcons are expected to dip into the quarterback market this offseason, making Heinicke expendable. Hell, if they double dip, signing a free agent and drafting a signal caller, Desmond Ridder might even join Heinicke.

Jonnu Smith’s standing isn’t known. Arthur Smith is fond of him, but Zac Robinson might not be. The veteran still has productive years remaining, but if the Falcons feel less inclined to spend significant cap space on tight end than the prior coaching staff, Smith could become a cap casualty. Robinson did come from a system that ran a lot of 11 personnel, which only features one tight end, so that trend will be important to follow.

Lorenzo Carter and Mike Hughes are less obvious decisions. Under Jimmy Lake, the Falcons are expected to run a 3-4 base defense. Carter certainly fits better in that scheme than a 4-3 base, but the team could still be looking to upgrade the position. Similar to Carter, Hughes could be a nice depth piece, but he shouldn’t be anything more.

The Falcons have plenty of ways to create cap space if they choose to. The restructures are less likely than the cuts, but they’re there if the Falcons need them. They’re all players that will be here for the long term.

Photographer: Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire

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