The Falcons will have cap space to play with in 2019, especially if they’re willing to take the plunge and cut ties with a handful of veterans who didn’t produce in 2018 and carry significant cap charges. That’s exciting, and I’m hopeful we’ll see this team make at least one splash and a handful of savvy additions as they look to return to relevance.
At the same time, the Falcons know all too well that they can’t get carried away, because the free agent class of 2020 makes the free agent class of 2019 look like a cakewalk.
That’s because 2019 only has one essential, marquee free agent, namely Grady Jarrett. In 2020, these are the players who will be unrestricted free agents:
· TE Austin Hooper
· G Wes Schweitzer
· LB Deion Jones
· LB De’Vondre Campbell
· DE Brooks Reed
· DE Vic Beasley
· DT Jack Crawford
· P Matt Bosher
You have to assume that Beasley will either be re-structured or released and that Reed will face a similar fate this offseason, but there are critical players all over that list. Hooper just had a Pro Bowl season after turning in the best year of his career, Schweitzer isn’t an essential starter but has twice had to start a majority of games at guard in the last two years, Crawford has been an extremely useful defensive tackle when on the field, and Bosher is perhaps the league’s most physical punter, which is worth something. Campbell is a quality starter at linebacker and Debo is a superstar who has to be re-signed at all costs. The potential for the Falcons to lose multiple useful players is real, especially if they’re not careful this offseason.
Of this list, only Hooper, Jones and perhaps Bosher are essential re-signings, but the Falcons will have tough decisions to make if they don’t have ready-made replacements for others on the list. Much will depend on the strength of their draft class this year and the decisions they make with, say, Beasley and Reed, but it’s worth acknowledging that there is no slam dunk replacement on the roster for Schweitzer, for Campbell, for Crawford or even for Beasley and Reed.
If the Falcons are a little more restrained than you’d like, in other words, the looming 2020 offseason will likely be a major factor.