The Atlanta Falcons have suffered through two seasons of “cap hell” under the new regime of head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot.
The Falcons had an NFL-record $83.6-million in dead-cap money last season, meaning $83.6 million in salary-cap space was allocated to players no longer on the team.
Fontenot and the Falcons bit the bullet in 2022 and took the dead-cap hit in order to purge the contracts of Matt Ryan and Julio Jones among others, and now the rebuild can begin in earnest.
What is the biggest priority for the Falcons headed into the offseason flush with cash and a No. 8 pick in April’s NFL Draft?
According to ESPN, settling the quarterback position is tops on the list.
The Falcons have to decide on the quarterback position. They got a four-game sample of rookie Desmond Ridder, but was it enough? If they don’t think so, the Falcons need to find a higher-end veteran who makes sense with their roster or use a first-round pick on a QB. But if they feel good about Ridder’s outlook, then they can focus on other areas in the offseason and find a capable backup to compete with Ridder. Ridder completed 63.5% of his passes, but his yards per attempt is 6.2 (would be outside the NFL’s top 30 if it qualified). — ESPN Staff
The top priority is a question ESPN admits the Falcons may have already answered. The small-sample size from Ridder was encouraging. Yes his yards per attempt were low, but there was no Kyle Pitts, and rookie Drake London was by far his most talented receiver.
Pitts is expected to make a full recovery, and the Falcons will add to the wide receiver room in the offseason likely through the draft AND free agency.
The Atlanta Falcons have poured high-draft picks into pass catchers the last-two seasons, and that has helped keep the cost down.
With under $20-million allocated to tight end and wide receiver, the Falcons can afford to open up the purse strings for a veteran wide receiver to pair with London.
Making a decision at quarterback could be the highest priority for the Falcons, but it’s a question that may have already been answered by Smith and Fontenot.