Matt Ryan has been a polarizing figure in Atlanta for most of his career. Even after 14 seasons, there appears to be a 50/50 divide within the fan base over the perception of Ryan’s tenure with the Falcons.
Considering how much the team’s talent level has dwindled in recent years due to salary cap constraints, the 36-year-old quarterback’s minor drop comes not exactly as a surprise. That’s not to say Ryan is playing badly or has been the one to hold the team back, but GM Terry Fontenot and the front office have been monitoring the damage to the salary cap since taking over for the previous regime.
NFL teams received a potential salary cap of $ 208.2 million. This is ahead of the reversal of the 2021 cap, in which the Falcons will have $ 1.2 million added to their 2022 total. So, taking into account the number of registered players (30), the Julio Jones trade dead cap ($ 15.5 million) and Dante Fowler’s canceled year ($ 4.6 million), Atlanta only has about $ 13.2 million to get a list. account of 51 players. Fowler’s cap hit will simply switch from active money to dead money.
While the cap is not normally the actual value, according to Tom Pelissero, it could be next year. It’s a good sign to get through this offseason. While it’s not exactly $ 208.2 million, it could be a very close number, which is a huge jump from the cap of $ 182 million in 2021.
As for the Falcons’ contracted players, three have a cap of over $ 20 million. After that, three players have a cap hit between $ 5 and $ 11 million, and 23 players have a cap below $ 5 million, including five offensive linemen – all of whom are on rookie contracts.
Then there’s Ryan, who sits at the top of the salary cap table with a cap of $ 48.6 million for 2022.
Some fans want the team to leave Ryan. However, its current contractual structure makes this somewhat unrealistic. Cutting it is out of the question as it still has enormous value. Recent games may say otherwise, but he has proven that when there is protection he can still be an extremely effective quarterback.
Restructuring is not a feasible option because you only save $ 11 million at most, and that is all pushed back to 2023 where it is already at $ 43 million before any restructuring. It is possible to trade it before or after June 1, but for the exchange to work in Atlanta’s favor, the other team would have to take some of their cap, which would also reduce the compensation the Falcons would get in return.
Not to mention that teams usually don’t trade their QB franchise after June 1 due to the proximity of the upcoming season. While injuries around the league may change that, it’s not normal practice in the NFL.
So what can the Falcons do that benefits them the most?
Extend Ryan’s contract. Adding more years to his current contract will not only allow the team to distribute their $ 48million cap for next season in a more digestible way, but it also has the potential to add $ 18million to the this year’s ceiling budget. Without making more moves, that would take Atlanta to around $ 31.3 million to sign at least 20 players.
Allen Robinson, Keelan Cole, Sammy Watkins and Mike Williams are each set to become free agents this offseason. We’ve seen how the lack of a real number one receiver impacts this Falcons attack, and by extending Ryan any of those players could become a real option.
Atlanta could also shift their focus to the offensive line and improve that way, rather than adding another rookie in the starting rotation. It just depends on Fontenot’s philosophy, which we have yet to see as CEO given that he inherited a cap deficit of $ 35 million.
The Falcons are one of two teams of 40 or fewer players with negative ceiling projection, so while it’s fun to imagine the team making a splash by signing with funds from a potential Ryan expansion, using this money on discounted players and building for the long term future may be the wisest decision.
Plus, the team might choose to keep as much of the cap as possible for turnover until 2023. As much as we want to see the Falcons land a big name in free agency, this is the kind of thing that puts them in their puzzle. current ceiling in the first place.