As the team's key defensive end against the run, he played 45 defensive snaps against the Raiders before the bye week. But since then, Jonathan Babineaux has slid from DT to DE (as Mora had him do in his rookie season) in that role, sending Edwards to the bench. He played a mere 10 snaps in each of the last two games, leading many of us to suspect that the team might opt to put that cap space to better use next season.
Of course, the natural question is whether the team would save any cap room or whether they'd take a nasty cap hit by releasing him. It's a 5-year, $27.5 million package after all. Gotta be steep, right?
Let's break it down year by year...
Edwards received a $4 million signing bonus. He had a base salary of $2 million for 2011. This year, he received a $3 million roster bonus, and he has a $3 million base salary - with $2 million of that guaranteed.
In 2013, the base salary jumps to $5.5 million. The final two years are at base salaries of $5 million each, and there's a potential escalator clause that would give him an extra $2.5 million in 2015 if he reaches a certain number of sacks.
My understanding is that the $4 million signing bonus is prorated across the life of the contract but that this year's bonus is not being amortized.
That gave him a cap figure of a mere $2.8 million for 2011, but a $6.8 million cap figure for this season.
That's a huge figure for a guy who is quickly becoming invisible, but the price to release or trade him this season would have been even steeper. It's the same situation the team had with Jamaal Anderson in 2008 and 2009. It's simply cheaper to keep him this year, even as a mere backup.
Moving him off the roster would have created a total of $8.2 million in dead money - $5 million in bonus and guaranteed salary, plus $3.2 million remaining cap hit from his signing bonus. If they traded or released him after June 1, they would have been able to push $2.4 million of that hit to next year, but at least $5.8 million was destined to count against this year's cap no matter what.
But after this season, the Falcons will have the green light to give him the pink slip if they so choose.
If they keep him, he'll cost $6.3 million against the 2013 salary cap. If they release him, only $2.4 million of his signing bonus would count against the cap.