Terry Fontenot’s staff doesn’t have it easy. They aren’t lounging about, sipping skinny vanilla lattes while practicing the latest TikTok dance craze. They can’t, because like Fontenot, they know they’ve inherited a messy financial situation. And if they’re going to dig the franchise out of that hole, nothing short of a lot of hard work and some real creativity will get them where they want to go.
The AJC’s Jason Butt recently dropped a must-read piece detailing what Fontenot’s staff is doing behind the scenes to set the Falcons up for success in 2021 and beyond. Go read it now, if you haven’t already. But let’s talk about this interesting tidbit for a moment:
Among the new additions assisting Fontenot in this department is Chris Olsen, the senior director of football administration who previously worked for the Houston Texans. Olsen has teamed with manager of football administration Kirsten Grohs, retained from the previous regime, to crunch the numbers to make the team’s cap crisis work. Fontenot has noticed their office lights staying on from the moment he arrives and until he leaves each day, giving him hope that these two will put the Falcons in a good financial place moving forward.
We anticipate the final salary cap landing somewhere between $180-185 million. That leaves the Falcons in a tight spot financially, needing to rid themselves of approximately $20 million in cap commitments while simultaneously filling out the roster. There are a variety of ways to make that happen, including restructures and cuts, but no matter how the front office goes about it, it won’t be pretty.
In the not so distant future, we are going to see Fontenot sign off on some big moves. And these moves won’t be splash free agent signings. Instead, we’re going to see some veterans cut or traded, ushering in a new era of Falcons football. That is not where we expected to be at present following the 2017 Super Bowl, which I’m told ended abruptly after the 3rd quarter and resulted in a Falcons’ victory.
So how do the Falcons get where they want to go? Well, from Fontenot’s perspective, it all comes down to value.
“We challenged them that we have to think about the big picture. It’s not just about getting underneath the cap. We have to make sure we are making big-picture decisions. That’s going to be a challenge because it’s going to be on us. We have to find value. ... We have to make sure that we find value in all areas of player procurement. They’re not all going to be high draft picks, they’re not all going to be high-paid free agents. We have to find value in all areas.”
Fontenot is attempting to thread the needle here, and it won’t be easy for him to do that, especially if the Falcons have any desire to be competitive in 2021. The more likely scenario probably has the Falcons flashing in 2021, winning some tight football games, but failing to execute a lengthy playoff run. And to be frank, that would be a step forward, giving the fan base something to be excited about. Nothing wrong with that, and I have to imagine that would be a win from Arthur Blank’s perspective.
Your thoughts about all this, Falcoholics?