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2017 NFL free agency: 3 potential Atlanta Falcons cap casualties

Keep an eye on Brooks Reed, Tyson Jackson, and Andy Levitre.

Divisional Round - Seattle Seahawks v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As we’ve noted, the Atlanta Falcons don’t feel like they have major roster holes, and they have enough money to extend a couple of key players, re-ink most of their key free agents, and maybe make one splash.

If they want to do more than that, they have the option of cutting players to carve out more room. If they’re going to cut anybody, the three names on this list seem like likely choices.

If the Falcons are looking to save some $$$, here’s three candidates for that big, red and black axe.

DT Tyson Jackson

Cap Savings: $2.65 million

Dead Money: $3.2 million

Free Agent Year: 2019

In 2018, when the Falcons can save almost $5 million by cutting Tyson Jackson, he may be in genuine danger. I’m not convinced he will be in 2017, not when less than $3 million is on the table, and the Falcons could be pretty thin at defensive tackle.

For all the deserved flak T-Jax gets for his production versus his contract, he’s played in 16 games for three straight seasons and remains a solid run defender. With Jonathan Babineaux likely headed out, the Falcons are still going to need a steady reserve. It’s going to come down to whether they think Tyson Jackson is that guy, or if they think they can do more with $2.65 million.

LG Andy Levitre

Cap Savings: $3.9 million

Dead Money: $2.75 million

Free Agent Year: 2019

After a shaky 2015 season, Andy Levitre was much improved in 2016. That may have been due partly to having Alex Mack next to him, but still, Levitre was a genuine asset. The question is, will that be enough to keep him from being cut?

That likely depends on what the Falcons intend to do at guard. If they want to re-sign Chris Chester or expend a high round pick on a guard and they like Wes Schweitzer to fill one of the starting spots, Levitre could be on the chopping block. That’s a lot of ifs, which is why I believe Levitre will be back, but $3.9 million in savings this year and $7 million in savings next year is not chump change. You’ll want to watch his status.

DE Brooks Reed

Cap Savings: $2.2 million

Dead Money: $2.82 million

Free Agent Year: 2019

Like Jackson, Reed has not lived up to his contract to this point. Also like Jackson, the savings the Falcons will realize by releasing Reed this year are only significant if the Falcons have a target in mind with the money and feel they won’t miss the player very much.

Given that Reed had two sacks, came to life in a big way early in the playoffs, and plays a relative position of need for these Falcons, I don’t imagine he’ll be cut. With Vic Beasley, Derrick Shelby, Adrian Clayborn, and possibly Courtney Upshaw returning and plenty of talent in the draft, it’s not a done deal for Reed that he’ll be here, even so.

If the Falcons were to cut all three of these players, for some reason, they would save about $8 million. That would buy you another nice free agent or two, but unless they’re going to replace all of these guys with solid mid-tier players or rookies, you’re talking about removing a starter and two quality part-timers from the rotation. Given that this team has not seemed overly interested in paying out the nose for multiple big-time free agents, I doubt you’ll see more than one man here cut.