The Falcons continually pushed their cap woes down the road in the twilight years of Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta, trying to navigate a tough situation while remaining a contender. As we well know, the Falcons did not manage to contend, which is part of the reason both of those men currently do not work with the organization.
For all that, Atlanta may have made it through this offseason with only minor headaches if COVID-19 hadn’t showed up and wreaked havoc on the league’s financials. The cap plummeted heading into 2021, leaving the Falcons really hard up for cash, to the point where they had a budget-friendly offseason and are still sitting here in late May without the money to sign their draft class. Unfortunately, it seems like a Julio Jones trade will be their way out of that, but let’s not dwell on that in this particular article.
Yesterday, the league announced some good news: The ceiling for the cap in 2022 is much higher. The question now is whether the league will end up setting the cap at that level, or if it’ll come in lower and create another budget-conscious offseason in Atlanta and elsewhere.
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a $208.2 million salary cap ceiling for 2022, per source.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 26, 2021
There is no cap floor as of now. The sides agreed last August to spread the COVID-related revenue shortfall from 2020 over several years, and the cap dropped to $182.5M this year.
Per Over the Cap’s estimation, the Falcons would be left with about $12 million in cap space with their current commitments if that ceiling was 2022’s cap number, and Spotrac concurs. There will be moves between now and then that will increase that number significantly, in all likelihood, simply because you can’t have much of an offseason with $12 million and the Falcons won’t want to rough it two offseason in a row. A new deal for Calvin Ridley and a potential new deal for Grady Jarrett will help.
As of right now, noteworthy free agents heading into next season include Foye Oluokun, Russell Gage, Younghoe Koo (a restricted free agent, at least), Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, and most of the free agents Atlanta signed this spring to one year pacts. That means there will be plenty of holes on the roster—Atlanta doesn’t have a ton of guys under contract for 2022 right now—but only a handful of free agents who figure to be urgent priorities. They’ll get to take stock of this roster as it is in 2021, make some big picture decisions about the future in 2022, and likely won’t be deep in the red financially when they do make those decisions. That’s at least a baby step forward.
We’ll take a closer look at the 2022 cap in light of this next week, but for now, consider it cause for some measured optimism.