We've discussed at length the different factors that will go into the decisions the Falcons make in free agency and the draft, but one element that hasn't been mentioned with any consistency is the percentage of the 2015 salary cap that the Falcons currently have dedicated to specific position groups.
It's not good business to dedicate a disproportionate amount of a team's overall salary spending to one position. That puts teams in the bind of having less cap space to allocate to other positions and leads to imbalance. This may be a factor at work for players like Corey Peters, whose play has warranted retention with a reasonable contract, but he's in a position group where players currently under contract account for almost six percent of the 2015 cap at present. That ties the Falcons' hands somewhat.
Spotrac.com has a comprehensive breakdown of the Falcons' spending by position for players currently under contract. As expected, the quarterback position accounts for 13.74% of the total cap for 2015, which puts the team seventh in the league in terms of spending at that position. Ryan's extension was necessary, and his contract is on par with what quarterbacks are getting these days, so this percentage isn't problematic or unreasonable.
Wide receiver takes up a similar amount of the cap with 13.66%. Julio Jones accounts for nearly half of that, while Roddy White and Devin Hester are 3.82% and 2.54%, respectively. Julio Jones is one of the most talented players in the league, and he's going to be paid as such, but when you look at spending on the wide receiver position, it's not terribly surprising that the Falcons chose to move on from Harry Douglas, who was due to receive $3.5 million in 2015.
It won't surprise you that the Falcons have just 1.13% of the 2015 cap allocated to running backs. Devonta Freeman is young and inexpensive, and the other guys currently under contract are Jerome Smith and Ronnie Wingo. After re-signing Patrick DiMarco, the fullback position accounts for just under one half of one percent. Tight end, with Levine Toilolo, Mickey Shuler, and Kyle Miller, takes up 1.20% of the 2015 cap. Atlanta's spending at the running back and tight end positions currently puts them 26th and 29th in the league, respectively.
Along the offensive line, seeing what the Falcons are spending on the left tackle position is a little jarring. Granted, this number includes both Sam Baker and Jake Matthews, but Baker's salary takes up an excessive percentage of the salary cap at 4.99%, and this position group ranks fourth in the NFL in terms of spending percentage. The left guard and right guard positions are lumped together, and this group accounts for 3.72% of the cap. With Justin Blalock gone, it's unclear how this number might change as the team decides how to fill that vacancy. The center position makes up 3.52% of the salary cap, and right tackle is 1.49%.
In the secondary, the cornerback position makes up 2.80% of the 2015 salary cap, which is one of the lowest percentages at that position in the NFL. Having promising young players as starters as opposed to proven, costly veterans certainly helps in that regard. The safeties, on the other hand, account for 5.83% of the cap figure, which is 10th in the league in terms of spending at that position. William Moore accounts for 3.86% of the cap on his own.
Where you really start to see a discrepancy is in Atlanta's front seven. The Falcons are spending 1.98% of the cap on inside linebackers, which puts them 24th in the league, and 0.76% on outside linebackers, which ranks the team dead last in spending on this position. Spotrac only lists Joplo Bartu and Tyler Starr as outside linebackers currently under contract.
A higher percentage is spent on defensive ends, but the team still ranks very low in terms of league spending at this position. At present, 4.71% of the salary cap is allocated to defensive end, which puts the Falcons 27th in the league for spending at this position. The Falcons' spending at the defensive tackle position, on the other hand, is inflated by the contracts for Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson. This position accounts for 5.94% of the salary cap, but it places the Falcons seventh in the league for spending at that position.
As far as special teams specialists, the Falcons are right in the middle of the league for spending at the long snapper position. Josh Harris' salary takes up .52% of the cap, putting the Falcons 16th in the league. Matt Bosher's salary accounts for 1.1% of the cap, which is 17th in the league, and kicker Matt Bryant, who is worth every penny, represents 1.7% of the cap, which puts the Falcons 12th in the NFL for spending at that position.
What do you think about the Falcons' positional spending, and how do you think it needs to change?