Atlanta came into 2017 with high hopes, but a rough regular season left them as the #6 seed in the NFC. While they picked up a win in LA against the Rams they were bounced from the playoffs by the eventual Super Bowl winners Philadelphia.
Coming into the 2018 season the Falcons are at something of a crossroad. They have just $12.7 million in cap space and a long list of free agent players that includes Dontari Poe, Adrian Clayborn, their veteran kicker Matt Bryant, and slot receiver Taylor Gabriel.
If Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff wants to re-sign them or make a meaningful move in free agency he could have to let go of the following players…
Andy Levitre, G – save $7 million
Levitre missed his first games for the Falcons this season as he suffered a triceps injury which he then re-aggravated in Week 17, forcing him to miss the playoffs. He has been a trusty servant for the Falcons in his three years, but the worst thing he could have done is miss time, because the Falcons barely skipped a beat without him.
Ben Garland slid into the left guard spot and performed well. While Garland is a free agent this year his example should have shown the Falcons that they can cope well without Levitre, making him extremely expendable.
Brooks Reed, DE – save $3.6 million
In the last few years the Falcons have invested heavily in edge players. With Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley performing well in the early stages of their career it has been tough for Brooks Reed to find his way onto the field.
He played just 39% of defensive snaps in 2017, producing just four sacks and 39 tackles. While he started 14 games in the regular season this year, he is basically just a rotational body at this point, and run playing ends are very available and far cheaper than Reed is right now.
Matt Schaub, QB – save $3.25 million
Backup quarterbacks have never been as popular as they are right now thanks to Nick Foles, but that shouldn’t mean you keep on an expensive name because you feel like you need a QB people know.
Matt Schaub has not been a good quarterback for some time now. The last time he made meaningful passes was 2015 when he started two games for the Ravens and threw four interceptions on 80 passes. He started eight games in 2013 for the Texans and tossed just ten touchdowns to 14 interceptions with 6.5 yards per attempt.
He will be 37 next season, and both the money and roster spot would be better spent on a young quarterback who might actually develop into something.
Extend Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan counts a massive $21.65 million on the Falcons cap in 2018. It’s the last year of a five-year, $103.75 million contract and Atlanta could save some $19 million by cutting him, but why on earth would you do that? Instead, the Falcons best path to saving money is to hand him a contract extension now that will shift some of the cap burden of this year down the line and also make sure the team has a future with the 2016 MVP.
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