Free agency is right around the corner, and we’re all ready to see what the Falcons will be up to. Before we get there, though, it’s good to take stock of where this team is.
The Falcons are coming off of a 7-10 season where they won a lot of close games, lost a couple of squeakers and got blown out of the water by some very good football teams. They saw A.J. Terrell blossom into a star, Cordarrelle Patterson truly arrive, and saw Kyle Pitts put his early stamp on the team, but they also suffered from lackluster play on both lines, an offense that absolutely ground to a halt at times, and some of the head-scratching decisions you’d expect from a rookie head coach. The 2021 season made it clear that while the Falcons have a handful of building blocks, they need a lot of improvement to push harder for an NFC South crown in 2022. Here are the Falcons’ current Super Bowl odds, courtesy of our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook.
They can get started on that improvement shortly. Below, you’ll find up-to-date cap space, a list of free agents, some potential cut and trade options, and potential signings we’ve identified over the past couple of months. Hopefully you find it useful before the 2022 NFL free agent frenzy hits and things actually start happening.
With the top 51 rule set to kick in shortly, the Falcons are estimated to have about $16 million in cap space available. That’s enough to bring back one of Foye Oluokun or Russell Gage and a handful of other players, but obviously isn’t enough to make much of a splash in free agency. We’ll see if that changes.
Kevin Knight had a pretty comprehensive breakdown of how the Falcons can create space in 2022, and some of those options are still on the table.
Complete list of free agents
Unrestricted free agents
- QB Josh Rosen
- QB A.J. McCarron
- RB Cordarrelle Patterson
- WR Russell Gage
- WR Tajae Sharpe
- TE Hayden Hurst
- TE Lee Smith (possibly retired)
- OL Josh Andrews
- OL Jason Spriggs
- OL Matt Gono
- DL Jonathan Bullard
- DL Mike Pennel
- OLB Brandon Copeland
- OLB Steven Means
- ILB Foye Oluokun
- ILB Daren Bates
- ILB Emmanuel Ellerbee
- CB Fabian Moreau
- CB Isaiah Oliver
- S Erik Harris
- S Duron Harmon
- S Shawn Williams
- P Thomas Morstead
- LS Josh Harris
No one on this list is truly essential, but the team would presumably really like to have Russell Gage, Foye Oluokun, Cordarrelle Patterson and Josh Harris back if they can. Isaiah Oliver, Erik Harris, Duron Harmon, Fabian Moreau, Brandon Copeland and others all played key roles a year ago and could be brought back affordably, though Moreau might get a nice offer from another team, and I’d expect the Falcons to make a run at re-signing at least a third of this list.
We genuinely have no indication to this point who the Falcons want back. Olukun should probably be the priority and the decimated receiving and running back groups mean Gage and Patterson should be back if the dollars work, but we’re just going to need to sit back and see what happens.
Restricted free agents
- WR Olamide Zaccheaus
- WR Christian Blake
- TE Jaeden Graham
- DL Anthony Rush
- K Younghoe Koo
Blake and Graham aren’t no-brainers, but the other three players should be. Koo is one of the best kickers in the NFL, Rush was an extremely useful part-time player on the defensive line, and Zaccheaus has value as a reserve receiver and special teamer.
Exclusive rights free agent
- RB Qadree Ollison
- OL Colby Gossett
Again, easy re-signings, both. Ollison showed he can be a capable third back and Gossett is a solid, versatile reserve offensive lineman, something this team can never have enough of. It’d be a surprise if the Falcons chose not to bring these two back.
- DT Tyeler Davison ($3.7 million savings, $1.21 million dead money)
- CB Kendall Sheffield ($2.54 million savings, $189,922 dead money)
- FB Keith Smith ($1.3 million savings, $366,668 dead money)
- RB Mike Davis ($2.5 million savings, $750,000 dead money)
- ILB Deion Jones ($14.7 million savings in post-June 1 trade, $5.34 million dead money)
There aren’t a lot of tough decisions here, though Deion Jones’ underwhelming 2021 and large contract are likely to at least have the team mulling moving on. A post-June 1 trade would let them sign their draft class and add a couple useful players in the summer if they go that route, but it likely depends on whether Foye Oluokun returns.
Smith has value as a special teamer and blocker and seems like an unlikely cut, but all three of the other names on this list should be considered possible-to-likely. Davison fell out of favor late in the year and offers the clearest cap relief on the roster for a cut, while Sheffield barely played and offers much the same. The question with Davis is whether the Falcons still believe he can be a lead back in a rotation or whether his 2021 season soured them on that possibility.
We broke these down by position this year, and Allen Strk ran through a sensible list of 10 guys who could make a difference for this team. Read through them at your leisure!