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How can the Falcons free up cap space in 2021: Restructures

The Falcons arguably have one of the worst salary cap situations in the league heading into 2021. In part 2 of our series, we take a look at how Atlanta can free up space by restructuring the contracts of several high-profile players.

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The Falcons have been busy this week, as they’ve reportedly decided on Saints executive Terry Fontenot at GM and hired Titans OC Arthur Smith at HC. Whoever winds up taking over, they’ll have to deal with a particularly tight salary cap situation. Atlanta has a very top-heavy roster and would be in dire straits if the NFL were to drop the cap down to the lowest possible limit at $175M. Even if the league keeps the cap steady for 2021—which I think is the mostly likely outcome—Atlanta could enter the offseason already negative or close to $0 in space with a lot of holes to fill on the roster.

All hope is not lost, however, as there are a variety of moves that the Falcons can make this offseason to free up cap space. From veteran cuts to restructures of big contracts, Atlanta has options to get under the cap, keep the core of the roster intact, and possibly even have the flexibility to accommodate a few mid-level signings.

I previously took a look at several veteran cuts the Falcons could make to help them free up cap space. Now I’m moving on to potential restructures the team could negotiate to clear even more room for 2021. Check out the video for an in-depth breakdown of 3 contracts that Atlanta could target to free up a significant amount of space.

Restructures can be dicey because of how they affect the future years of a player’s contract, which is why you should only do them if you are fairly certain that player is likely to stick around. By converting base salary into a signing bonus, the team can prorate that money over the remaining length of the contract. That works particularly well for players with at least 3 years remaining on their deal (like Jake Matthews and Deion Jones), but not quite as well for those with just 2 years left (like Grady Jarrett).

The Falcons could also consider restructuring players like Matt Ryan and Julio Jones. I already broke down these contracts in great detail in some previous episodes (Ryan here, Julio here). Long story short: Ryan isn’t likely to be a restructure target unless they’re planning to let him finish his contract in Atlanta or sign him to an extension. Julio could be a more likely candidate because his contract is more flexible and the Falcons will have a harder time trading him due to his age/cost compared to Ryan.

I hope you enjoy the first in our series of videos taking a look at the Falcons cap situation! Please leave your comments below and let me know what other types of breakdowns you’d like to see. If you haven’t already, be sure to Like the video and Subscribe to our YouTube channel!