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Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff provides insight into tight cap space

Folks aren’t happy right now about the cap, but TD has some good reasoning.

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NFL: Super Bowl LI-New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcons Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve not heard, the Atlanta Falcons have found themselves in a bit of a cap space quandary after placing the franchise tag on defensive tackle Grady Jarrett.

Monday night, The Athletic’s Jeff Schultz spoke with GM Thomas Dimitroff to get an update on exactly where the team’s mindset is, especially considering the cap issues at hand.

“I think we do a really good job with how we approach things,” Dimitroff said after returning from the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. “Is it going to take legitimate creativity? Yes. Does it put us in a real bind? No — I don’t believe so. I believe we’ve managed it quite well, and we’ll continue to manage it well.”

Dimitroff alluded to the Beasley and Jarrett moves, as well as the decisions to cut Robert Alford, Brian Poole and Matt Bryant, when he added: “We feel comfortable with the people we’ve decided to keep. We feel comfortable with the people we’ve decided to move on from. We feel we’ll be in the market to acquire a player or more who can continue to help us be a better football team. That said, of course there are times (the salary cap) will cause us to not pull a trigger on a decision.”

Well, those sounds like the words of a man who is well aware of the money in his bank account.

The team isn’t going to openly throw its hands up and freak out about its financial situation openly. If there are concerns, they’ll be kept internally. But Dimitroff knows better than any of us do about what’s on the horizon with the team, so perhaps he’s got an ace in the hole for offseason moves none of us have considered yet.

When you think about where the team’s money is, you look to the best players on the roster. Extending guys like Matt Ryan, Jake Matthews, Ricardo Allen, Devonta Freeman and, eventually, Grady Jarrett are keeping franchise pillars in place, and a palace with fine pillars still costs a lot of money. Dimitroff expresses confidence in the money he’s already given to his core:

“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy,” he said. “It never is when you have a $30 million quarterback and some of the high-priced players we have. But we made the choice to do that, and we think they’re worth that. That said, it’s complicated.”

Complicated is a good word. Though the Falcons have no shortage of good players on the roster, quality comes at a cost. Schultz mentions Mohamed Sanu and Ryan Schraeder as the first guys up for release for cap-related reasons, and gives more credence to the latter than the former. One of them is probably necessary for the Falcons to sign anyone of note this spring.

So don’t think Atlanta is wasting its money here. A franchise tag on Jarrett keeps him in the building for 2018, and gives the team more time to work out a new deal. If they’d let him walk, that’d have been a far, far, far worse outcome, cap space be damned. The Falcons are taking pains to keep their very best players, and that’s to be applauded. We’ll just hope the opportunity costs that come with such limited cap space don’t come back to bite them.