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Expect the Falcons to start making cuts soon

With very little cap space, a significant deal with Austin Hooper to work out, and free agency less than a month away, we should expect the Falcons to start making cuts very soon.

Atlanta Falcons v Houston Texans Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

We’re only part of the way through February, but we’ve already heard rumors about potential cap casualties for the Falcons. It happens every year: players who under-performed relative to their cap hit, or who simply provide too much savings to turn down are cut loose in the brutal financial calculus that is the NFL salary cap. This year will be no different in Atlanta, especially as the team enters free agency with just $4.9M in cap space.

For the Falcons, much depends on how active they want to be in free agency. Is re-signing free agent TE Austin Hooper a big priority, or is the team planning to re-invest that money in the defense? Are they planning on pursuing any other significant free agents? What about other re-signings, like LB De’Vondre Campbell, DT Jack Crawford, and DL Adrian Clayborn?

The more active they want to be, the more money they’ll need to have at their disposal—and they’ll need it soon. Especially if they want to get a head start on negotiating with their own free agents. Luckily for the team, there are several “easy” cuts that can provide a significant amount of savings with a minimal dead cap penalty.

If you’ve been following our coverage this offseason, you’re probably aware of the most likely cuts:

  • DL Allen Bailey: $4.5M savings, $1.5M dead cap
  • OT Ty Sambrailo: $3.75M savings, $2M dead cap
  • RB Devonta Freeman, $3.5M savings, $6M dead cap
  • TE Luke Stocker: $2.6M savings, $750K dead cap
  • QB Matt Schaub: $2M savings, $375K dead cap

There are a few other names that have been tossed around. C Alex Mack, for instance, would save the team a whopping $8M if cut (or traded)—although there’s no clear succession plan behind him at this time, so it’d be risky. CB Desmond Trufant has been recommended as a cut by some fans—his release does save $4.95M—but his $10M dead cap hit makes it particularly unlikely.

Outside of those players, there’s not much else the Falcons can do to free up cap space. There are still a few contracts Atlanta could consider restructuring, but keep in mind the consequences of doing that: the player becomes much more difficult to move on from in the future.

It’s unclear if the Falcons plan to aggressively approach this offseason by making a lot of cuts, or if they plan to be more surgical with their approach. Either way, one thing is certain: the cuts are coming, and they’re coming very soon. I’d expect us to get news on the first decisions as early as next week, with more coming out soon after.

Which players do you expect the Falcons to move on from in 2020? When are you expecting to hear news of the first cuts?