Could the Falcons Start a Major Rebuild in 2021?
It has been brought up by Falcons fans all over that now is the time to blow up the team and start a major reconstruction.
Faced with a possible top 5 draft pick, many fans are dreaming of a shiny new QB to hopefully start the next decade of winning football rather than what has been endured the last 3 seasons.
This is not an exercise to say this is what needs to be done. I repeat “I’M NOT SAYING THIS IS WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!”
Rather I’m just curious if it can be done.
There will be some facts thrown in (mostly numerical), there will be some speculation, a bit of guesswork, but it’s mostly “what if?”.
Of course, a lot goes into this kind of thing. Some things a lot of you won’t like. Maybe some of this will make you think in a different direction than you have.
In the end, without a new HC or GM, most of this is just speculation. And after tearing down the old roster, new productive players would need to be brought in, which is always a crap shoot.
But here we go, into the abyss, gonna start with a few facts….
Right now, the Falcons have 31 players under contract for 2021.
It’s been widely speculated that the salary cap will fall in 2021. Currently the number being thrown around is $176 million. That is the worst-case scenario, so I’ll be using that number. (Sidenote: I once had a supervisor that told me “plan for the worst, hope for the best, usually fall somewhere in between”). So that’s what I’m doing, planning for the worst.
Given that number to work with, the Falcons are currently approximately $26.5 million dollars over the cap (more than they are allowed to spend).
Also, currently the Falcons have approximately $2 million dollars left in 2020 that they can rollover to 2021. This puts us at about $24.5 million over the cap.
So, what does a team need to start a rebuild?
In the NFL, resources are money (room under the salary cap) and draft capital (draft picks).
Looking at draft capital first, the Falcons own 6 picks in the upcoming draft. 1 pick in each round 1-6, not currently owning a 7th rounder. There is some speculation that there will be at least a couple of complementary picks coming our way through what happened in 2020 free agency. But since those aren’t known at this time, I won’t bother counting them.
Next, we need to look at money, and as I’ve previously noted…we have none.
I’m going to attempt to secure some money first, then see if that doesn’t open up some avenues for draft capital.
31 players, $202,500,000 in cap charges needing to get below $178,000,000 ($176,000,000 possible cap ceiling + $2,000,000 rollover).
First, I’ll start with players that will just be released, but I would absolutely try to trade all of them first, I just don’t think there would be a market for any of them.
DT Tyeler Davison
2021 cap charge-$4,663,333
New 2021 cap charge-$2,426,667
New Falcons total cap charges-$200,257,975 (30 players)
DE Allen Bailey
2021 cap charge-$6,125,000
New 2021 cap charge-$1,625,000
New Falcons total cap charges-$195,757,975 (29 players)
LG James Carpenter
2021 cap charge-$6,458,333
New 2021 cap charge-$2,416,667
New Falcons total cap charges-$191,716,309 (28 players)
FS Rico Allen
2021 cap charge-$8,375,000
New 2021 cap charge-$2,125,000
New Falcons total cap charges-$185,466,309 (27players)
This part was easy. These are the only ones I would straight release. There are a couple others that could save a million here, a million there, but I’ll hold onto them for now.
However, I’m still about $10 million over the cap and we are down to 27 players under contract.
Here’s where I lose some of you. Just keep in mind, this isn’t what I would do, just “can it be done?”.
There is some speculation in this part, bare in mind, there is history behind all of these possible trade scenarios, not just plucking numbers out of the air…
Also, to receive any kind of compensation to help assist in a rebuild, good, popular players might need to be moved.
DT Grady Jarrett
2021 cap charge-$20,833,000
New 2021 cap charge-$11,000,000
New Falcons total cap charges-$175,633,309 (26 players)
I’ll leave it to you to decide on what we might get in compensation for Grady.
In 2009, the Patriots traded DT Richard Seymour to the Raiders for a 1st round pick (#17 overall). Seymour was a 29-year-old pro bowler.
Grady is only 27 (28 in April) and has been named to 2 pro bowls.
Do I think we could get a 1st rounder for him?
But I do think we could receive a 2nd and a 4th or 5th.
I am now officially under the cap (barely). But I only have 26 players under contract and now possibly 8 draft picks to sign. More room needs to be made, which will mean less players under contract.
WR Calvin Ridley
2021 cap charge-$3,468,415
New 2021 cap charge-$1,501,951
New Falcons total cap charges-$173,666,845 (25 players)
Once again, you can decide what you think this trade is worth.
In 2019 (not too long ago) the Giants traded Odell Beckham Jr to the Browns and received a 1st, 3rd and pro bowl S Jabrill Peppers.
I don’t think its out of the realm of possibilities to believe we could get a haul comparable to that.
2 very unpopular trades, 4 players released, only 25 players under contract, up to 10 draft picks but still only about $4.5 million under the cap, not enough to even sign our draft class, never mind fill out the roster.
LS Josh Harris
2021 cap charge-$1,075,000
New 2021 cap charge-$0
New Falcons total cap charges-$172,591,845 (24 players)
With now $5.5 million, I should be able to sign my rookie class, maybe need to trim another couple of million, but I can do that when the time comes.
I’m going to miss out on the first wave of free agency, but hopefully I can grab a few good players in phase 2 of free agency (after the June 1st cuts)
Speaking of June 1st cuts, I wasn’t finished. I still need money to fill out the rest of the roster….
But before I get started, a little update on the total cap charges….
Currently stand at $172,591,845, with 10 (hopefully) draft picks it should cost between $7-8 million. I’m going to round that off and put our total liabilities at $180,000,000 with 34 players on board (includes the 10 draft picks)
Now on with the show…
2021 cap charge-$18,666,666
Released post June 1st
New 2021 cap charge-$10,666,666
New Falcons cap charges-$169,333,334 (33 players)
2021 cap charge-$23,050,000
Traded post June 1st
New 2021 cap charge-$7,750,000
New Falcons cap charges-$154,033,334 (32 players)
2021 cap charge-$40,912,000
Released post June 1st
New 2021 cap charge-$23,412,500
New Falcons cap charges-$136,533,834 (31 players)
That should do it. Heading into secondary free agency (where some bargains can be found) I have about $40 million to add 20+ players to get up to the requisite 53. Off course I need to add about 40 additional players to get to a full camp roster, but then you get the “51 rule” and there’s no need to worry about cap numbers then.
A couple of notes…
1-the only way to move on from Julio in 2021 AND gain any cap relief is through a post June 1st trade. Releasing him post June 1st saves you nothing against the cap because Thomas Dimitroff made his entire 2021 base salary guaranteed. Guaranteed base salaries go with the player if you trade them, but if you just release them, it counts against you.
2-I really hated treating Ryan like that. Of course, I will release him earlier and designate him as a June 1st cut, so he has a better chance to sign on with someone else. I would have liked to have traded him, try to get something out of it, but a trade couldn’t be consummated (to save money) until June 1st, meaning Ryan wouldn’t be able to work out with his new team until then. No one would want that if they were looking at Ryan as a possible 1-year starter.
Once again, in no way am I advocating this. I think other moves can (and will need to) be made. I think Ryan can still win for us for at least another year or 2.
But anyone interested in a re-build, this could very well be what it looks like.
For those wondering what all these moves do to the future cap (2022)….
As of right now, making no moves, our 2022 cap liabilities are $172,742,084.
With these moves (not counting drafted players, free agents that might get signed to multi-year contracts) our total cap liabilities for 2022 are $122,799,916, a savings of $50 million for 2022.