After fending off multiple potential replacements under Dan Quinn, Robert Alford finally saw the end of the time with the Falcons. Allen Strk looked in-depth at Alford about a week ago and concluded the Falcons would not bring him back on his current salary. Strk pointed out Alford’s stunning drop off from his career-best 2017 season where he allowed a low 80.7 quarterback rating in coverage.
What about 2018?
Quarterbacks repeatedly found openings when throwing in his direction. Per Football Focus, Alford allowed 849 receiving yards for a passer rating of 138.9. Those are dreadful numbers for someone as talented as him. That’s what makes it difficult to pinpoint how a good player can fall off so dramatically in one season.
Not helping was Alford’s contract: he was out of guaranteed money. Alford was owed $8.5 million in base salary in his age-31 season with a cap hit of $9.1 million. That isn’t a huge number but the Falcons clearly did not expect Alford to rebound to 2017 levels.
Additionally, Isaiah Oliver came along nicely in his rookie season and is a good scheme fit for Quinn’s defense. Oliver comes at the fraction of the price, and a free agent signing would almost certainly have a lower cap hit early in their contract.
Alford was slated for another $8.5 million in base salary in 2010 with the same $9.1 million cap hit. With his cut, the Falcons save $7.9 million in cap space with $1.2 million in dead cap attributed to his remaining prorated signing bonus.
Based on the numbers provided by Over The Cap the Falcons move from about $14.5 million in cap space to nearly $22.4 million. With a few potential cuts like Ryan Schraeder, Brandon Fusco, Brooks Reed, and maybe Mohamed Sanu, Atlanta can free up around another $16.6 million, and rescinding Vic Beasley’s fifth-year option frees up another $12.8 million. Using both post-June 1st designations would free up $3 to $4 million more if the Falcons want to spread out the dead cap.
The Falcons may be on the lookout for another corner but expect Oliver to move to starter with Brian Poole or Damontae Kazee at nickel. They definitely have some more spending money with Alford gone.