In case you found yourself in a coma and/or drunken stupor over the last couple of weeks, the Falcons took eight players in the 2013 NFL Draft, including cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford with their first- and second-round picks.
Though the rookie pay scale instituted under the new CBA makes the cost of signing those players significantly cheaper, they still cost money. And those are expenses that the Falcons actually can't pay... yet.
Our favorite blondie over at ESPN has calculated that the Falcons currently sit at $2.183M under the salary cap. That number is essentially confirmed by Sportrac, which has Atlanta at $1.909M under the cap. In either case, Yasinskas reports that the Falcons do not have enough room to officially sign the 2013 draft class at the moment.
Indeed, Peter Konz's cap hit last year was about $652,000. Julio Jones' rookie cap hit was $2.957M in 2011. So including the late-round picks, we can project that this year's rookie class will require around $5M worth of space, if not more.
But fear not: Tyson Clabo's somewhat surprising release last month (he has since signed with Miami) can provide some relief here. The $4.5M base salary he would've earned in 2013 will be off Atlanta's books once June 1 rolls around (he was designated a post-June 1 cut by Atlanta's front office).
In addition, the long-awaited Matt Ryan extension which Thomas Dimitroff continues to downplay should also offer some cap relief, at least for the first year of the deal (most NFL contracts are backloaded, as many of you know).
So to summarize, don't expect the Falcons to work out those rookie deals right away. They'll wait until June when they get that nice bonus from Clabo's release to finalize those agreements.
But that may not be all, either. That $4.5M opens up enough room for the Falcons to potentially make one more small-caliber veteran signing.
As Dave points out, don't expect the glorious return of John Abraham. But a depth acquisition on the defensive side of the ball, maybe someone like ex-Jaguars linebacker Daryl Smith, could make for a prudent move. We will see how that plays out over the coming months.