The first 2 phases of the falcons roster is now complete, it’s time to look at the all important 3rd phase….Special Teams
Part VIII-Special teams
-Matt Bryant, Shayne Graham
Matt Bryant-signed through the 2017 season, $2,870,000 cap charge
Cut pre 6/1-$666,667 dead money, $2,204,166 cap savings
Cut post 6/1-$333,333 dead money, $2,537,500 cap savings
Trade-same as pre 6/1
Matt finally had a down year for our Falcons, if you can call making 14 out of 18 a down year. And 3 of his misses hit the upright (if that doesn’t show accuracy, I don’t know what does). Maybe age (Matt will be 41 next season) is finally catching up to Matt as he suffered the dreaded quad injury this past season. Quads are particularly bad for kickers for 2 reasons, (1) if you have a bad quad, you obviously can’t kick, and (2) at Matt’s age, it’s showing your elasticity may be starting to falter. Matt hit all 26 of his XP’s, but didn’t even attempt a FG of more than 50 yards in 10 games. It may be the beginning of the end for Matt in Atlanta.
Shayne Graham-contract expired, unrestricted free agent
We pulled the youngster (38 years old) off the street after week 10 and all Shayne did was make 11 out of 13 including all 3 past 50 yards. The only 2 Shayne missed were past 40 yards, but both were horrendous kicks, although 1 technically went down as a block, but that kick didn’t stand a chance anyway. Shayne made all 8 of his XP’s. He might not come back a Falcon, but he’ll be sure to get a call from someone. (Note: another example of our faltering offense late in the season, Bryant had more XP attempts than FG attempts, Graham had more FG attempts than XP attempts).
Matt Bosher-signed through the 2019 season, $2,700,000 cap charge
Cut pre 6/1-$1,500,000 dead money, $1,200,000 cap savings
Cut post 6/1-$500,000 dead money, $2,200,000 cap savings
Trade-same as pre 6/1
Does it say more about the team or the player when the punter is generally considered one of the better players? Matt Bosher, 1 of only 2 survivors from drafts 2010-2012 (Julio Jones being the other), delivers everything you could ask from a punter. Besides punting duties, Bosher also handles kick-offs and is the holder on extra points and kickoffs. There’s not a lot of analysis here because there’s nothing to analyze. Bosher is one of the best in the business, and is going to be a Falcon for a long time to come.
Josh Harris-under contract through the 2018 season, $860,000 cap charge
Cut pre 6/1-$300,000 dead money, $560,000 cap savings
Cut post 6/1-$100,000 dead money, $760,000 cap savings
Trade-same as cut pre 6/1
Honestly, how many of you could have told me our long snapper’s name before I just printed it? Anybody? I only knew it because of writing this piece last season. Snaps are good and I’ve even seen Harris make a tackle or two, which is much easier than it was in the good old days. Nowadays, you can’t line up over the longsnapper and can’t touch him until 2 Mississippi. I’m not taking anything away from Harris, I couldn’t do what he does. But remember when you didn’t use a roster space for the long snapper. A lot of times it was your 3rd string TE, or a backup linemen, even remember a linebacker doing it. Sometimes I miss the good old days. But, if I had a son, we would be out in the backyard practicing long snapping all day long. Almost $900,000/year for snapping a football and no one can touch you? Sign me up for that gig.
Devin Hester-signed through 2016 season, $3,833,334 cap charge
Cut pre 6/1-$833,334 dead money, $3,000,000 cap savings
Cut post 6/1-same
Devin is one of the greatest returners of all times, period. However, injuries and age are catching up to him, and since I’ve already cut him in the WR section of the roster analysis, I see no point in continuing on here. He will be difficult, but cheaper to replace.
Analysis: Typically we just gloss over this area because things usually run so smoothly from year to year. However, this year there are reasons for concern. Matt Bryant started to show the “old kickers” disease and Devin was injured for almost the entire season, then didn’t do a whole lot upon his return.
My Conclusion: Matt Bosher is excellent and not going anywhere, neither is Harris. I’ve already dismissed Devin Hester from the receiving core, I’ll try and trade him first but doubt I get any takers, so he’s released as I’m not paying almost $4 million for a return only guy. Nick Williams and Justin hardy had varying degrees of success during pre-season last year so they will get a look. I’m sure we can find a lower tier FA who can return punts. Let’s face it, kickoff returns are slowly being phased out of the game, so as long as you have punts covered your good. My other option is the draft, and 1 player in particular…Cyrus Jones, CB from Alabama. Returned 4 punts for TD’s last season alone and isn’t a bad CB either. Could be the 4th or 5th CB and make a living returning kicks. Cyrus started off as a 7th rounder, but has now crept up into the 5th/6th round conversation, so obviously we would need to do something here as we have no 5th or 6th rounder. I don’t think we could wait and hope he lasted til the 7th. Lastly, what to do with Matt Bryant. I have gone on record a couple of occasions as saying I would give Matt a 2 year contract til his leg fell off then give him a 1 year extension. That’s how good Matt had been for us. I’m not worried that Matt missed 4 kicks (especially since given a half a foot on 3 of those then he’s suddenly 17 out of 18), but it’s that quad that has me worried. As some of you know, the older you get, you lose the elasticity in muscles and ligaments. Kickers are some of the most limber guys you’ll meet. They don’t even work out with weights for the most part, they just do a lot of stretching. So when a kicker pulls a muscle, and not a minor muscle you can’t really stretch, but a major one like the big one that runs down your thigh, it’s time to consider moving on. Since he’s under contract, I bring Bryant back, but I re-sign Graham or another FA kicker or perhaps even an UDFA and have a real kicking competition this camp rather than those token ones we’ve had around here for years. Maybe if we don’t have such a “sure thing” kicker, that will force us to be more creative/aggressive inside the red zone.
Prediction: I believe the Falcons move on from Hester, but Bosher, Bryant, Harris are all safe. We will bring in UDFA’s for camp bodies at all 3 positions, but I doubt very seriously that the FO gives any real consideration to replacing any of them.
Well, that’s a wrap on Dewey’s roster analysis of the Atlanta Falcons. But for those of you who have labored through all 8 parts of this epic odyssey, I have a special treat for you……
A SNEAK PEAK OF YOUR 2016 ATLANTA FALCONS IF DEWEY WERE GENERAL MANAGER
(please hold all applause until the end)
This will obviously change some in the coming months, but here’s what I’d like to see as of right now….
-Brandon Weeden (Texans)
-Tim Hightower (Saints)
-Brian Quick (Rams)
-Darrius Heyward Bey (Steelers)
-Bryce Williams (draft/ECU)
-Eric Winston (Bengals)
-Spencer Durango (draft/Baylor)
-Tony Bergstrom (Raiders)
-Tim Barnes (Rams)
-Kendall Reyes (Chargers)
-Charles Tapper (draft/Oklahoma)
-Jordan Jenkins (draft/UGA)
-DeMarcus Dobbs (Seattle)
-Terrance Knighton (Redskins)
-DJ Reader (draft/Clemson)
-Kyler Fackrell (draft/Utah State)
-Tyler Matakevich (draft/Temple)
-Cyrus Jones (draft/ Alabama)
-Jalen Mills (draft/LSU)
-Sua’ Cravens (draft/USC)
-Ka’imi Fairbairn (draft/UCLA)
-Cyrus Jones (draft/Alabama)
I started to go into detail about how I arrived here, but holy crap, it went on for another 4 pages. So, ill just sum it up. Obviously you can see there were a lot of cuts, all before June 1st and could still make it under the cap. So no dead money attached in 2017. I also did this without using any “rollover” cap space from 2015, of which we have over $10million. As it is, I am just about $2 million under the cap for 2016, would be $12 million if I choose to use rollover. Don’t need to worry about 2017, besides expiring contracts, I have about $17 million in dead money that will come off the books, not to mention the $10 million in dead money that is currently on the books in real life, so that would be $27 million coming off besides expired contracts.
How did I go from 5 picks to 11? First I used the hope that many NFL teams will realize that there are no QB’s worth an early 1st round pick (actually, I don’t think any are worth a 1st round pick at all, but you know some will bite). I don’t think the first QB will go off the board until #13 Philadelphia. Then the panic will set in. I trade back to 28 with KC who realizes a good QB is what’s holding them back. Then I trade back again with Dallas, completely out of the first round to the 2nd round, pick #34(there is only 1 of the 4 projected 1st round QB’s left on the board at this time and Dallas needs one badly). These moves garned me extra picks and a future pick. I also traded away Tevin Coleman for a 3rd and a 6th. Lastly, the future pick I got was a 4th rounder, I traded it to either SF, Det, Oak, Philly or Houston who all have multiple 5th round picks, so I grabbed one there. Gave me 0-1st rounders, 2-2nd rounders, 3-3rd rounder, 3-4th rounders, 1-5th rounder, 1-6th rounder, 1-7th rounder.
The draft picks I made should all be available, but you never know how the draft unfolds so who knows. For instance, Kyler Fackrell is projected to go in the 2nd by CBS, 5th from Drafttek, or anywhere in between by other sites.
I learned a lot about salary caps doing research for this. For instance, in 2016, the minimum veteran’s salary for a player with 4-6 years experience is $760,000. But if you sign him to a 1 year deal, and don’t give him bonuses totaling over $65,000, that player’s cap charge will only be set at the 2 year service player minimum, $600,000. A 10 year vet’s minimum is $985,000, but as long as he doesn’t get more than the $65K in bonuses, he’ll only count the $600,000.
Also, anyone heard of the 51 rule? You’re allowed up to 90 players in camp, no way you can fit those all under the cap, so the NFL only looks at the top 51 cap charges to determine if you’re under the cap or not. This really comes into play when trying to figure how much cap space you need to sign draft picks. This figure is of course determined by the NFL. If by where you are slotted to pick and the number of picks you have, the NFL grants you a $7 million rookie pool. You would think you need $7 million to sign them. However, each player you sign knocks someone off the “top 51” Teams are usually littered with players going to camp that have signed for at or near the minimum for 1-2 years experience. So you would only be adding the difference between what you signed your draft pick for and what the salary was of the player who got knocked out of the “Top 51”. There’s a formula they use that changes a bit every year, and the numbers can fluctuate some depending on how many picks you have, but essentially you only need about 60% of what the NFL allocated you. So in the example of $7 million allocation for draft picks, you would really only need about $4.2 million in cap space to sign all your draft picks, even though they would be signed for the $7 million.
I could go on, but I’m really tired and I can see I’m boring you. Believe it or not this has been real fun. I sincerely hope you guys enjoyed it. Might be a while before I post again, but who knows, if I get an itch I just can’t scratch or if my knees keep me up all night, I just might find something to say.
Good Night Darrel Starks, wherever you are. GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!