The Falcons have apparently finalized a move many of us thought likely earlier in the offseason, re-structuring starting left guard Andy Levitre’s contract. We don’t know what they’ve done to his contract just yet, but I imagine the details will be out in the coming days, if not hours.
Presumably, the move would accomplish two things: Keeping Levitre under team control longer, and decreasing his cap hit for the 2018 season. Both of those are important because Levitre was set to be a free agent after this season, and he’s eating up $8.375 million in cap space this year. If the Falcons want to be active in free agency—and it’s increasingly likely they will be, given the holes they’ve opened up on the roster—they need to take some money off that hit.
This absolutely lessens the chances the Falcons make a major investment at guard this offseason, though they still may be in the market for a long-term replacement and/or Wes Schweitzer upgrade for 2018. Levitre has quietly been very good each of the last two seasons, though an injury robbed him of a few games last season, and will hopefully have another 2-3 years before he starts to slow down. Getting him locked up was important for offensive continuity, and hopefully the new deal accomplishes that.
The cap space is also an important factor here, though it remains to be seen how much the team has opened up. The Falcons need a second tight end, a third receiver, potentially a new right guard, and several pieces along the defensive line at minimum, and they won’t get all of those through the draft. With Mohammed Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and a handful of other quality defensive linemen out there, plus a looming contract extension for Matt Ryan, the money should go to good uses.
A preemptive congratulations to Andy Levitre, and hopefully we’ll have the contract details soon.