Falcons ‘Get Creative’ Reconstructing Contracts, Free Up Space

Matt ryan jake matthews

getty Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates with Jake Matthews #70

By restructuring contracts with quarterback Matt Ryan, defensive end Allen Baily, and left tackle Jake Matthews the Falcons have created $10.5 million in salary-cap space according to NLPA documents.

The Falcons were considered to be in “salary cap hell” last month due to the tight cap space they had to work with.

Before restructuring, the Falcons possessed only about $4.5 million in space. They had the third-least amount of cap space in the NFL this year. And they were also one of only three other teams with under $10 million in space to spare.

Contracts Restructured

ESPN’s Vaughn McClure reported the team’s restructured contracts via Twitter on Wednesday. The deals were actually restructured Saturday, according to the league’s transaction wire.

-Ryan’s salary-cap number went from $24.1 million to $20.5 million and saved the Falcons $3.6 million in cap space.

-Matthews’ salary-cap number went from $16.0 million to $10.5 million and saved $5.5 million in cap space.

-Bailey received some upfront money in the form of a $3.2 million bonus. He had his cap number reduced from $5.9 million to $4.5 million to save $1.4 million in space.

Currently, Over The Cap has the Falcons listed with just over $14 million, but that’s before the contracts of Fowler and Gurley are accounted for.

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Getting Creative

Earlier last month Falcons general manager, Thomas Dimitroff insisted that the Falcons were not in “salary-cap hell” but simply needed to get creative to still make room for talented yet affordable players.

“We look at where we are spending our money and we try to decide how we are going to adjust. Sometimes, it takes more creativity in a year where you sign a lot of players to high contracts coming into a year verses another year when things are a little less active and it becomes a little easier to navigate”, Dimitroff told AtlantaFalcons.com in January.

Well, here they are, getting creative by cutting players like Devonta Freeman and Desmond Trufant. And letting other starters walk like Austin Hooper, De’Vondre Campbell, and Wes Schweitzer with big hopes they would all return willingly to settle for smaller contracts. But that didn’t happen…they all found a home within two days of free agency.

And now the Falcons have reconstructed contracts which is fantastic for them now but could hurt them in the long run since the money is converted to signing bonuses that will accumulate in the long run.

One More Free Agent

This all leaves the Falcons with around $14 million in cap space…well at least before signing Dante Fowler and Todd Gurley.

Fowler’s contract is the main concern (three years, $48 million). The Falcons could hold off on paying Fowler the big chunk considering there is expected to be a cap increase for the 2021 season.

Right now, the Falcons need to focus on finding another worthy defensive player at a reasonable price before the 2020 NFL Draft. They’ll need still have at least $6.4 million left after free agency to spend on the rookie class.

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