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 | TE | OL | K | EDGE | DT
Today’s group is DT, where there are pretty slim pickings available in free agency. The Falcons also happen to have a pretty crowded DT room, especially when you consider that Allen Bailey and John Cominsky will be splitting time there as well. Let’s take a look at some of the top players left on the market at DT.
A possible reclamation project who could be had now for very little, Mike Daniels was once a rising star at the DT position in Green Bay. After an injury-marred 2018, Daniels was allowed to walk in free agency and signed a one-year deal with the Lions. Injuries struck once again and Daniels never managed to do much in Detroit. However, he’s only two years removed from an excellent 2017 season and could be a better fit in Atlanta’s defense than Detroit’s. This is the highest-upside signing of the available free agents, particularly in the pass-rushing department.
On the other hand, if the Falcons are looking to make stopping the run a big priority on the defensive line, adding arguably the best run-stuffer in the NFL in Damon “Snacks” Harrison would probably get it done. A “heavy” set up front consisting of Harrison, Tyeler Davison, Allen Bailey, and Marlon Davidson would be very difficult for opponents to run against. Harrison will be 32 in 2020, however, and will probably still demand a lucrative contract. As the NFL pivots more and more towards passing, it’s a fair question if this signing would be worth it from an financial and team-building standpoint.
Another DT who is coming off a recent string of injuries, Timmy Jernigan put together several solid seasons in Baltimore and one in Philadelphia. Jernigan played in only 3 games in 2018 and only 10 in 2019, but looked to possibly be returning to form last season. He’s a quality player against both the run and the pass and would give the Falcons another “true” DT on the roster to back up Grady Jarrett. Jernigan was reportedly in talks to sign with the Houston Texans for $3.75M ($1.25M guaranteed) in early April, but the deal has yet to go through officially and he remains a free agent.
It feels like Marcell Dareus has been the in the NFL forever, but the truth is he’s just now turning 30 and now hitting free agency after a series of lackluster years in Jacksonville. Earlier in his career, Dareus was a force as a pass rusher, but he hasn’t been the same lately with very pedestrian numbers in each of the last three seasons—including an injury-plagued 2019. Still, Dareus is fairly young and could be relatively affordable if the team is looking to add a well-rounded, high-upside veteran to the mix.
As you can see, it’s pretty slim pickings in the free agent market at DT. What are your thoughts on the potential for the Falcons to add a DT after June 1st? Are you interested in any of the above players, or perhaps someone else not listed?