Latest on Falcons’ Possible JJ Watt Interest: Report


Getty Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons and J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans circa 2019.

Three-time defensive player, JJ Watt, and the Houston Texans have mutually agreed to part ways, Watt announced himself via Twitter on Friday. Now several fans, analysts, and other NFL athletes are wondering where he’s going to end up next.

Watt is a player that any team would want on their defense, including the Atlanta Falcons. While that would be a dream come true, Falcons’ insider Jeff Schultz of The Athletic lays out the cold hard truth as to why Watt would never be able to come to Atlanta.

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The Falcons Have A Salary Cap Mess

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith will have their hands full this offseason trying to put their heads together to figure out a solid roster using a very tight salary cap. An exact number has not been determined yet, but COVID-19 will cause a decrease in each team’s spending amount.

The Falcons will have some unused cap space over from last year with a rollover of $1.7 million, according to the NFLPA’s public salary report.

But, the Falcons are already nearly $36 million over the projected cap for 2021, so the $1.7 million in cap relief won’t be much help.

NFL analyst Mike Florio mentioned during a recent episode of Pro Football Talk that he was told the projected cap hit won’t be lower than $175 million but is rumored to be around $180 million. That would give the Falcons some flexibility, but they will still need to make several cuts and reconstruct a handful of player contracts. This means throwing a chunk of their cap to acquire Watt wouldn’t be smart.

The Falcons Are in Full Re-Build Mode

Watt wants to play for a contender and the Falcons haven’t seen that since 2016.

As Schultz said, the Falcons will have to rely on the draft, undrafted free agents, and cheap veterans to rebuild their roster, which is going to take a long time and maybe a few seasons. This means the Falcons will have a tough time getting back to being a playoff contender, but with the right moves, the Falcons could do it in 2021.

Good thing for Atlanta, they already did the right thing by hiring Fontenot and Smith to take over. Smith is known across the league for being a quarterback whisperer after turning around Ryan Tannehill’s career at Tennessee. Therefore, he will be able to use the same strategy to work around Matt Ryan‘s weaknesses.

And Fontenot was a scout for a long time and comes from one of the leading teams in the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints.

Together, they’ll be able to find the talent they need to fill holes including a running back, cornerback depth, defensive line depth, and help on the offensive line. By drafting a game-changer, the Falcons could be in good shape right off the bat. That game-changer could be a top pash rusher the Falcons desperately need and while Watt is one of the best, he’s not what he used to be.

The Falcons have a handful of stars to work with on both sides of the ball and it will really come down to the coaches’ strategy, but don’t count them out of the playoffs just yet. You can, however, count out Watt coming to Atlanta.

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