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How Jake Matthews new cap hits creates flexibility for the Falcons

More money does not always mean more problems.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons are very fortunate to have the problem of needing to pay players they’ve drafted. It’s a good sign that you’ve drafted well enough to worry about how you’re going to pay them all.

When the Falcons announced that they had extended Jake Matthews last week with a 5 year, 75 million dollar contract, there was some concern over what that money would mean for this year and over the next several years.

Thanks to the folks at Over The Cap, we now have a good idea of how Jake’s cap hit will land over the life of this deal. The good news is it’s structured in a way that provides the team plenty of flexibility to continue signing important young players.

For 2018

Before the new deal, Jake was going to have a nearly 12.5 million dollar cap hit in 2018. It was a near certainty that the team would look to lower this number to free up space this year and that has definitely happened. Thanks to a lower 5.5 million base salary and a proration of a nearly 14 million signing bonus, his cap hit for 2018 was lowered to a far more manageable 8.3 million. That 4.2 million savings against the 2018 lifted the team cap space to roughly 9.5 million this year. With that room, there’s no reason a deal with Grady Jarrett can’t get done as well, even after factoring in the Ricardo Allen extension.

2019 and beyond

In 2019, Jake gets a guaranteed salary of 6.5M and an option bonus of 1.8M, bringing his cap hit to roughly 11 million. Again, this is a very reasonable number that should make it easier to get guys like Keanu Neal and Deion Jones signed to long-term deals as well. This staggering of cap hits will give the Falcons enough wiggle room to get many of their best young talents locked up for the long term. As it currently stands, the Falcons would have an estimate 21 million of cap space against a 190M salary cap, without taking the Ricardo Allen extension into consideration.

The bigger cap hits for Jake hit in 2020 and beyond. His 2020 cap hit is 15.1M, 2021 is 17.6M and 2022 is 17.1M. Keep in mind that the current collective bargaining agreement will expire in 2021, so any cap hits in that year and beyond are almost meaningless right now. The CBA could definitely have an impact here, and it’s likely the Falcons are anticipating some sort of change at that point as well.

Despite what you think about extending Jake Matthews, the Falcons have put together another good contract structure that should give them some flexibility in the coming years. There’s no reason to think that key guys like Grady Jarrett, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones can’t also be retained at this point. While it’s unlikely the team will be able to keep everyone, there’s no reason to believe they can’t keep their most talented core in place for years.