Welcome to free agency week, Atlanta Falcons fan! Please don’t expect much.
Yes, it’s the tough reality with a football team starting a new regime and strapped for cash. The start of free agency is typically reserved for the biggest cap spaces and most advantageous Super Bowl contenders looking to add one last piece, neither of which, well, the Falcons are at the moment.
It’s been a long year without a lot of Falcony excitement, which is probably why you’ve made a free agency wish list with all the potential players you want to sign a gargantuan contract with the Falcons. You might have visions of Joe Thuney and Carl Lawson dancing in your head. You might be ferociously scrolling through Twitter, waiting for a Scheft-date about your favorite Flowery Branch team.
It’s not to say you won’t get those, far from it. The Falcons are going to sign a handful of players in the next week or so because most teams do in some capacity to start the league year, and they have a lot of roster spots they can’t completely staff with rookies.
New general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith will want, even with the very limited cap space, to make some waves to get started out. Those might be little ripples instead of big splashes, though. Both guys, as much as your wildest dreams won’t want to admit, have plenty of room right now to do what they need, without a glaring expectation to win a Super Bowl in year one. It’d certainly be nice, but it’s not necessarily expected as the duo try to pave a path to victory for the next five, 10 years, not just this fall.
Yes, you’ve heard aplenty that the Falcons cap space is dire, but a few more restructures could make for legitimate room. Not gargantuan space, but it’d be enough to sign a few guys of modest performance, a reliable veteran on the back nine or a diamond in the rough or two. Those types of signings don’t make fireworks go off, but they could help get wins.
It really, in earnest, could be a quiet week. Fontenot and Smith, very realistically, could wish to swallow the bitter pill of 2021’s cap space and not wish to push too much more money down the road. Spotrac says the team has about eight million to go to get to even on the cap for the top 51 contracts, which means the team could get in the plus with reworking, say, Grady Jarrett’s and/or Deion Jones’ deals. They also have guys like Dante Fowler Jr. and Tyeler Davison who they, hypothetically, could cut ties with, perhaps as post-June 1 cuts.
Even though we all want Matt Ryan and Julio Jones to get one last chance at Super Bowl glory in a Falcons uniform, this is a football team in transition. It’s entirely possible that this football team makes a gigantic decision at one particular position in April in the first round of the draft that kicks in the future. It stinks for the fun of March, but the Falcons may not have to be aggressive this week to find good success this offseason.
Will we hope they will anyway to make things interesting? You bet. I remember how excited I got when the team signed Fowler and Todd Gurley, only to feel a little silly for getting that worked up as the team made some legitimate moves to start the league year. Neither signing really worked out. Those were just a couple of the many dominoes that led to an entire regime change.
A boring week might not be such a bad thing; it might mean we have some decision makers who know what they’re doing. We should expect a few new Falcons to welcome over the next week or two; just don’t get your hopes up for any big fish. Barring a sincere shock and some salary cap wizardry, the Falcons probably won’t be major players for any of the highly coveted names this week. Don’t fret, because success won’t be determined by marquee free agents.