The Falcons had to dive into the clearance bin during free agency in a bid to somehow replenish a mediocre defense. One of those players was Barkevious Mingo, a pseudo-edge that was previously most famous for being drafted 6th overall and not much since. Now 30, he has been on six different teams the last six years during which he has amassed a disappointing 5.5 sacks.
Mingo would most likely have made an impact on special teams, but was certain to be in the edge rotation. This was before Mingo posted bond in a child sex case. While we do not have any info on the charge, it would be nearly unprecedented for a player to go into the season with such charges pending. The gravity of the charge means the Falcons will need to look at moving on sooner rather than later.
With that in mind, let’s look at his deal and some replacements.
Mingo signed a $1.25 million, one-year deal with $1.1 million guaranteed. It is a few hundred thousand over veteran minimum. That means even if the Falcons are able to clear up some cap space, it will likely be offset with another player’s contract. He would still cost the Falcons the full amount if Mingo lands on the Reserve/Commissioner Exempt List.
Atlanta’s only good option is to cut Mingo. They have already paid Mingo his signing bonus of $175,000. The question is if being charged means the Falcons can void Mingo’s guaranteed cash (that being the $925,000 that has not yet been paid). Those depend on the contract, but the Falcons most likely have something similar included in Mingo’s contract. Voiding that guaranteed money should be easy.
The Cap Hit
If the team can void the remaining guarantees, the Falcons can free up the entire unpaid amount of $1.075 million. Again, that is certain to be at least entirely offset by a new player. Veteran minimum, which is set by the number of years in the league, ranges from $660,000 to $1.075 million. The Falcons would find some cap relief under the veteran minimum salary benefit of a few hundred thousand.
The good news is the Falcons have about $9.6 million in available cap space. Add on $1.075 million, and the Falcons should have nearly $10.7 million in cap space. Just note that the replacement player’s salary will mean little has changed after everything is said and done.
The Depth Chart
It is no secret that edge is and has been a problem for the Falcons, short of one unreal year by Vic Beasley, since Jon Abraham was unceremoniously cut nearly a decade ago.
Dante Fowler should be starting due to a complete lack of other options. Behind him is Steven Means, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, rookies Kobe Jones and Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and young undrafted players Shareef Miller and George Obinna.
It’s real bad.
The Falcons will be forced to sign someone just to fill out the roster. The rotation looked problematic before Mingo’s arrest. Now it is frightful.
We have been clamoring for Justin Houston, an aging pass rusher who showed he still had plenty of juice in 2020. Houston would likely be an impact pass rush specialist. After all, he is healthy.
Behind Houston are good pass rushers who are not healthy. Melvin Ingram and Olivier Vernon are big names. However, both are still working their way back from injury. Everson Griffen, Trent Murphy, and even Adrian Clayborn should be healthy, but all three are on the wrong side of 30 coming off multiple down seasons.
Houston is the clear-cut best option.
Things are so desperate the Falcons may need to consider working the phones and making a trade.
The Falcons are in a bad spot
If you need an edge in July, you are in some trouble. The Falcons are clearly in some trouble. Houston would be a good get considering the situation. Everyone behind Houston comes with concerns.