If you’ve been following along with Kevin Knight’s series of articles going article-by-article for potential signings, you may have guessed that we expect the Falcons to sign someone once they get their hands on that sweet, sweet Desmond Trufant cut money. The question really is who they might sign, and whether there’s any chance it’ll be someone the fanbase is going to be excited to get.
To answer that, we have to look at two key concerns: The money the Falcons are actually getting and their history of summer signings. Let’s do both right now.
As Kevin has repeatedly noted, the Falcons are getting $10.75 million from the Trufant cut. That release opened up a huge hole at cornerback and puts a ton of pressure on a young corps heading into 2020, making it somewhat of a dicey proposition. Thanks to the team’s genuinely impressive cap management this offseason, though, they’ve set themselves up to potentially address cornerback further if they want to with a starting-level player.
That’s because even after accounting for the rookie draft class, the top-51 rule where only 51 salaries hit the cap means that Atlanta could very well only spend about $2.5 million on that class. That would leave them flush with over $8 million in cap space, the kind of space that lets you sign a couple of mid-tier starters, one pretty good one, or just set you up with flexibility during the year if injury strikes.
So what might Atlanta do with that money? Again, you should read Kevin’s series to get a full list of potential options, but let’s take a closer look at whether history suggests the Falcons will snag a major contributor or not.
Thomas Dimitroff’s summer dreams
The short answer is no, which surprised me. With memories of Allen Bailey and Ray Edwards dancing in my head, I thought for certain I’d find a fairly long list of contributors who joined up in June, July or August, but the reality is that those two names are about the only ones who really stand out. The Falcons have tended to tweak their roster quite a bit in those months, but they’re rarely landing someone they plan to count on that late in the year.
That’s a product of this team’s approach to roster building, more than anything else. The Falcons traditionally have a pretty tight plan for their starters and rarely take more than one major flier over the summer, with guys like Bailey working out and guys like Ron Parker...not working out so well, for whatever reason. The bottom third of the roster, meanwhile, churns quite a bit as the team gets a closer look at undrafted rookies, free agents, and incumbents hoping to make it. The team traditionally has at least a little cash sitting around this time of year, but they rarely are doing a ton with it.
Should we expect something different in 2020? I think it’s fair to, given the amount of cash set to be available, the team’s urgent need to contend this season given the coaching and front office jobs reportedly at stake, and the caliber of free agents available. Larry Warford is a top tier guard, Darqueze Dennard is a useful starter at worst at cornerback, and despite their ages defensive ends like Vinny Curry and Everson Griffen are useful players who would boost a still-shaky Falcons pass rush. It’s sort of a perfect storm of need and availability, and while I truly believe Atlanta likes the team they’ve built to this point, I also think they’re not quite done adding to it.
We still don’t have a good idea of who it’s going to be, but I’d look for at least one starter/major rotational piece contributor to join up in June or July. Hopefully that piece and the fine work Atlanta’s done to this point are enough to make the Falcons a contender again in 2020.