I know many of us are interested in seeing how the Falcons' cap situation stacks up. This won't be an in-depth look at the cap, but it will help you understand how much dead money the Falcons are carrying.
@TheFalcoholic Breakdown of the #Falcons top 10 cap hits, dead money, 2015 salary ranks, & 2014 PFF performance: pic.twitter.com/uSSKF5hQL1— Shane Richardson (@ShaneNFL) January 22, 2015
What's interesting to note is that the Falcons only have a handful of truly lousy contracts. The team's top contracts are largely either useful players or ones who would not be easy to cut. Sam Baker is the one player whose expensive contract makes him a logical target for a cut, even if the team might have to designate him post-June 1 to minimize the cap hit they'll need to swallow this year. Steven Jackson is also a logical target, given that the Falcons can save a considerable amount of money and Jackson is hitting the age of no return for your average NFL running back. Tyson Jackson and Harry Douglas are also potential targets, though neither are prohibitively expensive this season and both might be contributors under Dan Quinn.
The Falcons have done a reasonable job with their dead money, per Richardson. Many teams have $1 million or more in dead money, but the Falcons are well behind teams like the Ravens and Steelers, who may have more than $9 million on the books in 2015. That lack of dead money can be useful when you're trying to sign players to long-term deal, and it's one of the reasons the Falcons are sitting on a fair amount of cap space in 2015.
The Falcons could have anywhere from around $23 million to north of $30 million, depending on the moves they elect to make. If they're able to free up $30-plus million, they could extend Julio Jones and land a major defensive free agent, while still filling some of the other roles on the roster with useful players. We're getting ahead of ourselves, here, but it's a tantalizing thought.