The Atlanta Falcons, along with several other NFL teams, have until 4 p.m. ET on March 17 to get under the $182.5 million salary cap.
In doing so, the Falcons have restructured quarterback Matt Ryan‘s contract, according to a report by WSB’s Zach Klein.
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Matt Ryan’s Contract Was Restructured Last Season
This move saves $14 million for the Falcons as Ryan was set to make $23 million this year in base salary but will take $2 million in 2021 with the remaining $21 million spread out over the next three years in guaranteed money. Ryan’s contract doesn’t expire until the end of the 2023 season.
The Falcons restructured Ryan’s contract last season as well when they were in “cap hell,” saving the team just $7 million by converting $8 million into bonus money.
What could be a downside is that Matt Ryan won’t be leaving Atlanta anytime soon as his new cap hit for 2022 is expected to be near $50 million, according to NFL inside Field Yates. But, we don’t know what the financial landscape will look like next season because the salary cap number was cut down by nearly $30 million due to the COVID-19 financial hit. We should expect things to get back to normal by the start of the season.
Also, Ryan sticking around long shouldn’t be such a bad thing as new head coach Arthur Smith, who is credited for turning Ryan Tannehill’s career and the Titan’s offense around, takes over this season.
At 35-years-old, Ryan is entering his 14th season in the NFL as Atlanta’s starting quarterback. Just this past season, Ryan continued to play at an elite level throwing for 4,581 yards and 26 touchdowns.
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The Falcons Restructured Jake Matthews Contract Too
The Falcons also freed up another $8.6 million in cap space on Monday by restructuring left tackle Jake Matthews’ contract, which also expires in 2023.
Matthews agreed to convert his $13 million base salary for 2021 into a signing bonus that can be spread over the final three years of his contract and reduce his salary-cap number from $20.8 million to $11.6 million this season, according to D. Orlando Ledbetter. Like Ryan, Matthews’ cap number for 2022 also bumped up to $21.8.
This move wasn’t too surprising either as Matthews, 29, is entering his eighth season in the NFL and has been extremely durable and consistent on the offensive line while protecting Matt Ryan’s blindside over the last seven seasons. The Falcons selected him with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft and ever since Matthews has started 111 games.
Before Matthews and Ryans’ restructure, the Falcons were $28 million over the salary cap.
The Falcons are supposed to restructure other player deals as well, though it could be a challenge with not many candidates’ contracts to work with.
The Falcons could turn to defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, who holds the team’s third-largest salary cap cost in 2021 ($20,833,000), or linebacker Deion Jones next. Both players are being considered for contract extensions.
Atlanta has also cut down the cap by releasing veteran guard James Carpenter, as well as safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey.