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Post-June 1st free agency targets: Wide receiver

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The Falcons will be getting $10.75M in cap space after June 1st from the Desmond Trufant cut. Here are some potential targets at WR, where Atlanta has star power at the top but lots of question marks behind them.

Detroit Lions v Chicago Bears Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

The Falcons are pretty strapped for cap space right now, but that is going to change soon. Due to the designation of Desmond Trufant as a “post-June 1st” cut, the team will be receiving a significant windfall of cap relief in early June. Atlanta will be getting back exactly $10.75M next month, with $4.4M in dead cap remaining on Trufant’s deal. This money is going to be used, in part, to pay for the draft class. Due to the top-51 rule, however, this will only cost the team about $2.5M against the cap. That should theoretically leave about $8.25M for the team to use for potential free agent additions.

If you missed any of the previous entries in this series, you can find them below:

RB | WR

Today’s group is WR, which has a ton of star power at the top in Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but lots of question marks behind them. The Falcons have a lot of youth on the back end of the roster—which is not necessarily a bad thing. Still, the team may want to balance that out with the addition of another experienced veteran, particularly if Laquon Treadwell doesn’t pan out. Here are some of the best fits for Atlanta on the current free agent market.

Taylor Gabriel

A potential reunion with fan-favorite WR Taylor Gabriel could potentially be in the cards for Atlanta. Gabriel was a very productive weapon for the Falcons and had excellent rapport with Matt Ryan from 2016-2017 before signing a big free agent deal with Chicago. Despite two solid years with the Bears, he was let go for cap reasons. Gabriel needs to be used to his strengths and isn’t a do-everything WR—so he may not be the best fit for Dirk Koetter—but he’d probably become the WR3 on this team almost instantly. He shouldn’t be prohibitively expensive and would provide another speedy option for Atlanta on the outside or in the slot.

Jermaine Kearse

If the Falcons are looking for a versatile veteran who can do a little of everything at a solid or better level and won’t cost much, Jermaine Kearse is that player. Kearse is now 30 and lost the entire 2019 season to a preseason leg injury, but prior to that he’d been a consistently productive option for both the Seahawks and Jets. Questions surrounding Kearse’s health are probably the reason he has remained unsigned, but it also means he’d be very affordable. Kearse could be the WR4 in Atlanta and has enough size and athleticism to play both on the outside and in the slot.

Dontrelle Inman

If the Falcons are looking to inject more size into the WR corps—which is what they’re lacking outside of Julio and Laquon TreadwellDontrelle Inman could be an intriguing option. At 6’3, 205, Inman is a big-bodied WR who made a name for himself as a deep threat. He’ll be 31 during the 2020 season, but he could be a very affordable option to add more veteran depth to Atlanta’s WR corps.

Justin Hardy

Another potential reunion at the WR position could be with Justin Hardy, a fourth-round pick of the team in 2015 who never managed to become anything more than a solid WR4/5 option. Hardy doesn’t have great size or speed, but he’s got tremendous hands and has been a quality option in the red zone in recent years. He’ll only cost a veteran minimum contract and could be a solid veteran addition if the team is looking for more competition and/or experience on the back end of the roster.

Other options

Josh Gordon
Paul Richardson
Chris Hogan
Tavon Austin
Demaryius Thomas

There are a lot of names still available on the free agent market at WR, though none that are quite as starting-caliber as those at the top of the RB market. Each of the above players has been a quality starter at times, but it’s unclear if any are still in that conversation in 2020. Still, if the team suffers an injury and wants to roll the dice on a potential steal, Josh Gordon is probably the player with the best chance to “boom”. The others all have potential, too, but will probably be asking for more money than the Falcons want to pay.

What are your thoughts on the potential for the Falcons to add a veteran WR to the mix heading into training camp? Any players that you’d like to see the team target?