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Falcons Free Agency 2021: Breaking down the basics

The Falcons are about to face a difficult offseason with very limited cap flexibility, but they still need to make moves in free agency. In Part 1 of our free agency series, we break down the basics including the different types of free agents and the rules around signing them.

Atlanta Falcons v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Falcons finally have their new head coach and GM, with former Titans OC Arthur Smith and former Saints executive Terry Fontenot officially joining the team this week. We’ve also seen the hiring of the coordinators, with Dean Pees at DC, Dave Ragone at OC, and Marquice Williams at ST. It’s been a busy and fun week for Falcons fans as the team enters a new era.

That new era will have a difficult start, however, as Atlanta is in a very tough spot with the salary cap. Recent reports say that many owners are pushing for a salary cap all the way down at $180M, which would be a nearly $20M drop from 2020. That is only a hair higher than the “nightmare scenario” of $175M, and would put the Falcons at nearly -$30M in cap space heading into the offseason. I maintain that the cap isn’t likely to drop that far or at all—this is probably all posturing on the part of the owners, who will want to extract something from the NFLPA in return for a flat cap this season—but it’s something to be aware of.

I already took a look at some veteran cuts and restructures the Falcons could do to free up nearly $40M in cap space. Those moves, combined with the nearly $6M in 2020 cap they should be able to “roll over”, should be enough to get the team under the cap and sign their draft class even in the nightmare scenario.

In the event that the cap is flat, however, those moves would free up Atlanta to make a few calculated moves in free agency. There won’t be any splash signings here, but I’d expect a few key re-signings and perhaps a handful of mid-level veterans from the open market. To prepare everyone for 2021 free agency, I’ll be doing a series of episodes breaking down potential targets for Atlanta including key re-signings. Today’s episode, however, focuses on the basics of free agency—and is a great place to start for fans who are looking to understand the ins and outs of this process.

Check out the video below for the full breakdown.

Today’s episode details the different types of free agents, including UFAs, RFAs, and ERFAs, and the rules that determine how players are classified, and if they can be signed or negotiated with by any team. If you’ve ever wondered what makes a player an RFA vs. an ERFA, this is the video for you. I’ll also be touching on some of the key free agents in each of these classifications for the Falcons heading into 2021.

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!