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 | LB | CB
Today’s group is CB, where the Falcons invested a first-round pick in A.J. Terrell but still have some significant concerns. Can Isaiah Oliver continue to improve as the other starter, and who can Atlanta trust to start if injuries strike? There are still a number of quality CBs available on the open market. Let’s take a look at some potential targets for the Falcons.
Once an above-average starting CB in the league, Dre Kirkpatrick has seen his play decline lately due to a string of injuries. He played 13 games in 2018 before winding up on IR, then just 6 in 2019. He’s never been an elite CB, but he’s been reliable in coverage and a solid tackler. Kirkpatrick was having a strong season in 2018 before his injury, allowing only a 50% completion percentage and a 82.2 passer rating when targeted. He’ll be turning 32 during the 2020 season, but Kirkpatrick would provide a starting-caliber veteran option for an extremely young Falcons secondary.
Another ex-Bengals CB, Darqueze Dennard started the 2019 season on the PUP list and only played in 9 games. He had a solid season, however, allowing only a 48.6% completion percentage and a 74.5 passer rating when targeted. Dennard is also a solid blitzer and very reliable tackler. He’s played primarily in the slot due to his lack of ideal size (5’11, 205), but probably has some outside flexibility as well. Dennard was reportedly going to sign a 3-year, $13.5M contract with Jacksonville, but talks fell apart. That means the Falcons should be expected to pay a similar rate of around $4.5M/year for Dennard, who will be turning 29 in 2020.
The top free agent CB remaining on the market, Logan Ryan had an excellent 2019 season with the Titans. He’s a phenomenal tackler who usually puts up safety-like numbers (113 tackles and 4.0 TFL in 2019), and is also an excellent blitzer (4.5 sacks, 10 total pressures). Due to Ryan’s lack of ideal size, he’s generally been most successful in the slot—where the Falcons already have an intriguing young player in Kendall Sheffield. If Atlanta thinks he can play on the outside, however, he’s arguably the best of all remaining options. The only question is price, and Ryan is almost certainly asking for significant compensation.
There’s no doubt that Trumaine Johnson didn’t live up to his potential after signing a massive free agent deal with the New York Jets, but he’s still good enough to be a starter in the league. Johnson was actually putting together a strong season in 2018 before injuries struck, and he found himself on IR after just 7 games in 2019. If the Falcons are looking for a high-ceiling buy low candidate, Johnson could be the perfect fit. He’ll be 30 in 2020 and coming off a season-ending ankle injury, but that should depress his price enough for a team like the Falcons to sign him. The presence of Johnson would give Atlanta another starting option should one of A.J. Terrell or Isaiah Oliver falter to start the season.
There are a few other interesting names out there on the market. Aqib Talib is a legend in the NFL, but he spent a significant portion of both 2018 and 2019 on IR and will be 34 this season. Despite being 37 years old, Tramon Williams put together a respectable 2019 season in Green Bay as a reserve and could potentially do the same for the Falcons. Brandon Carr has been one of the NFL’s most durable players since being drafted in 2008, and played a mix of safety and CB for the Ravens in 2019. He’ll be 34 this season but is about as reliable as they come, though his best fit is likely as a rotational piece at this stage of his career.
What are your thoughts on the potential for the Falcons to add a CB after June 1st? Are you interested in any of the players listed above, or do you have a different target in mind?