For most teams, the offseason is filled with rampant speculation, and the Falcons are no exception. For example, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution hypothesized yesterday that Michael Turner and John Abraham could be cut to free up cap space in Atlanta, prompting many to ask, why the heck would the Falcons cut Abe? Well, they probably won't. First of all, it's difficult to believe that a savvy GM like Thomas Dimitroff would finalize the deal the Falcons signed with Abraham prior to the 2012 season without considering cap implications for future years. Also, Pro Football Focus premium stats indicate that Abraham was not only Atlanta's most effective pass rusher in the 2012 season with 10 sacks, but was also graded as the most effective defensive player overall. One does not simply cut John Abraham.
This won't be the last of the roster speculation, either. As Ledbetter mentioned, considering Michael Turner's statistical decline this season, and the $1.4m contract escalator that would adversely affect Atlanta's limited cap space, there is much discussion of whether or not he'll be cut. This move, in my opinion, is pretty likely.
There's talk of cutting Dunta Robinson, who still has three years left on his contract and would still impact Atlanta's salary cap even if cut. Robinson has never put up the interception numbers that fans have expected, and managed just one interception in the 2012 season, but there is more to pass defense than interceptions. Receivers covered by Robinson were targeted just 104 out of 623 attempts in pass coverage, and Robinson deflected seven of those passes as well.
"The Falcons won't resign Matt Ryan" has to be the craziest roster speculation bouncing around. Ryan is in a contract year, and his agent, Tom Condon, is known for securing big paydays for his clients--Condon also represents Drew Brees, and we all know how that worked out for the Saints. Coming off of a season in which he broke team records and helped guide the team to the NFC Championship, Ryan will get a big contract regardless of the cap space the Falcons have to play with this season. The Comrade will make this work. This isn't even a question.
Tony Gonzalez: will he stay, or will he go? Hopefully Gonzalez won't, to quote my younger daughter, "Favre it up," because it would be best for everyone involved if the Falcons had a definitive answer from Tony before the draft and free agency. Dimitroff wants Tony back, his teammates want Tony back, and the fans want Tony back. To quote my younger daughter again, "I still believe in that 5% chance." Until Tony announces his official decision, this speculation, and my optimism that he will return, will persist.
Then, there's the big name free agent speculation that is a part of every offseason. Will the Falcons get Darrelle Revis and his Falcons hat? Will they take a cue from the Atlanta Braves and pull off a blockbuster deal to bring in brothers Martellus and Michael Bennett to fill positions of need at tight end and defensive end? With limited cap space, it's hard to imagine any huge moves for big money players, but there's always the option of restructuring existing contracts to be more cap-friendly, and Dimitroff has surprised us before.
What roster moves are you anticipating? Are you worried about the salary cap?