This story has been updated to reflect the fact that only Schraeder’s contract is coming off the books after June 1.
The Falcons went after their offensive line with pruning shears and a big bag of fertilizer this offseason, choosing to get rid of longtime tackle Ryan Schraeder and 2018’s big signing Brandon Fusco to make room for several new players, with both now looking for new opportunities with new teams. They did that for several reasons, but the biggest one was probably freeing up the cash to make more moves down the line.
While Fusco’s contract is already off the books, the bulk of Schraeder’s money is still out there until after June 1, as clarified by the Falcons to the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter.
Even with just Schraeder’s money, the Falcons will still have some flexibility to chase free agents, especially if they get their extensions done. They’re anticipated to have between $7.5-$8 million in space.
Okay, you say, what good is that at this point in the offseason? The answer is plenty (gasp), and I’m going to briefly explain some of the ways in which the Falcons could use that money:
- To offset some future money with Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett, should they get those extensions done. If the Falcons want to load those hits up a bit more upfront since they have some room and it’s relatively late in the offseason, they can do so and reap the benefits down the line. This wouldn’t be the sexiest use of the money, but it’s practical.
- They could use this money, likely by necessity in conjunction with 2019 savings realized from those extensions, in order to go after Gerald McCoy. The longtime Buccaneer is still an extremely capable player and would both turn this defensive line into a more lethal unit and offset the loss of Steven Means by allowing the Falcons to kick a player like Jack Crawford or Ra’Shede Hageman out to end more often. They would likely drain most if not all of their cap space by making this move, but McCoy, Jarrett, Davison, Crawford and Senat might be pound for pound the most useful defensive tackle rotation in the NFC.
- They can pursue other quality free agents, given that there’s still several out there. Nick Perry or Derrick Morgan would be useful additions as rotational pass rushers, Corey Liuget could be a stone solid addition if the Falcons don’t get McCoy, and the team could keep some money in their back pockets to address needs if injury or ineffectiveness become themes this summer at any key positions. The flexibility to add more talent after a busy offseason is not a terrible consolation prize if the Falcons whiff on McCoy.
Now we just wait to see what road the team takes with their cap space.