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With the trade deadline looming, the Falcons have the 4th-largest amount of cap space in the NFL

Atlanta’s in a position to make a move, if they wish to do so.

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Atlanta Falcons v Miami Dolphins Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Falcons have not, as a rule, had much in the way of cap space in recent years. When Terry Fontenot took over as the team’s general manager, he had to contend with years of big extensions and questionable cap management leaving the team squeezed financially, and under Thomas Dimitroff those last handful of years were light on spending as well.

That’s why it’s sort of funny to see the Falcons, of all teams, sitting on the fourth-largest amount of cap space in the entire league with the trade deadline looming. If Atlanta wants to make a move, say to prop up a depleted cornerback group or to add a useful piece that will help them this year and next, they have a little over $9 million in wiggle room to do so.

Of course, they might save that money for a rainy day and plan to roll a little over into 2023, when they’re expected to have far and away the most cap space they’ve had since...well, I don’t even remember when. The Falcons can finally be big spenders next year, and while they’ve done an admirable job of building a team that figures to contend for the NFC South title a little ahead of time in 2022, all arrows are pointing toward next year as Atlanta’s arrival as one of the NFL’s better teams. Assuming the next offseason is one where the Falcons take advantage of all that cap space, naturally.

We’ve seen Atlanta has been in no rush to make big moves with the re-tooling of the roster not yet complete, but we’ve heard enough scuttlebutt about teams like Washington making intriguing players like Daron Payne available that it’s natural to dream a little. The Falcons, recognizing their limitations this year, seem unlikely to surrender valuable draft capital and potentially tie up all their remaining cap space in a player who will be an undrafted free agent in 2023, so unless there’s someone they absolutely love and think they can re-sign, the trade deadline is going to pass quietly for yet another season in Atlanta.

For all that, it’s nice for the Falcons to have a little cushion of cap space for once. The injuries piling up at cornerback and the ones that already hit at running back are evidence that in a long NFL season, you may need to have a contingency plan even if you’re not pushing your chips in to contend. The Falcons would like to be competitive all season, and while I’m sure Fontenot and company wouldn’t mind rolling some of that cap space over to splurge even more in 2023, they have some flexibility to add help if they need to the rest of the way.

While the big moves aren’t coming now and the space isn’t exactly gigantic, Fontenot and the front office are not all that far away from being able to spend big to improve this football team. For now, we can just enjoy the fact that if they need to and want to, the Falcons can look to improve this squad in the here and now.