The Atlanta Falcons have had a busy-two weeks since the free agency period opened, but ESPN analyst Seth Walder doesn’t equate busy to good.
With limited space on Twitter, Walder found something negative to say about each of the Falcons’ major transactions in the last two weeks.
The Falcons have had a pretty rough offseason so far, imo.—Seth Walder ESPN Analytics Writer
-Brought back McGary despite pass pro struggles
-Paid sticker price for Bates when safety market was cheap
-Rolling with Ridder/Heinicke instead of (thus far) trying to land Lamar
Yesterday we talked about the bizarre fixation NFL.com’s Dan Hanzus had with Desmond Ridder and Lamar Jackson in his power rankings. At least Walder goes beyond Ridder and Jackson while dragging the Falcons.
It’s almost as if some of the national-talking heads spent all winter saying how perfect Jackson would be for the Falcons, and they’re mad that it hasn’t happened… nah… couldn’t be that.
Most of Walder’s criticism of the Falcons has to do with money, not with the ability of the players themselves.
Overpaid Lindstrom. Overpaid Onyemata. Overpaid Bates.
Yet still have the eighth-most cap space in the NFL according to Spotrac.
The Falcons got much better on paper, especially on defense, and still have plenty of money left over.
What’s the problem again?
Lindstrom is widely regarded as the best guard in the NFL. According to PFF, he’s the best player in the the NFL. Well, maybe not the best, but he graded as the highest player on either side of the ball in 2022.
He’ll play this year on his fifth-year option before his new contract kicks in and currently is just fifth among guards at $13.7 million.
He actually drops to sixth in 2024 with a cap hit of $18 million on his new contract.
Why is this significant?
Jake Mathews contract drops $10 million off of his cap hit next year.
In other words…. the Falcons extended Lindstrom, re-signed McGary and will only see a cap increase of less than $10 million next season.
That’s pretty good business.
ESPN Analytics doesn’t think much of McGary.
Walder and ESPN Analytics refer to him as one of the worst run–blocking tackles in the NFL, while singing the praises of former Denver Broncos guard Dalton Risner as one of the top-10 best run blocking guards.
If you have a system that says Risner is one of the best, while McGary is one of the worst… the system is broken.
McGary has his faults, but run blocking isn’t one of them. And no one was predicting the Falcons would be able to re-sign him at just $11-million per season.
Another excellent piece of business.
Bates is a 26-year old safety who was thought highly enough last season to be franchise tagged by the Cincinnati Bengals who paid him $12.9 million last year. Did the Falcons overpay at $16-million per season on a four-year deal?
Maybe. But $13 million to $16 million isn’t exactly eye watering.
But a look at that contract shows the Falcons are really only tied to him for two seasons if things don’t work out.
He carries a $9.5-million cap hit this season and a $17.5-million cap hit next season. His dead-cap number in 2024 is $26.5-million, but it falls to just $9 million in 2025.
So the Falcons can move on from Bates in 2025 as a worst-case scenario and save $9.5 million on the salary cap while taking a dead-cap hit of $9 million.
The Falcons had an NFL record $83.6 million in dead-cap money last year.
If he plays at a Pro-Bowl level, they’ll be happy to pay the $16-million annually.
You can afford to overpay a bit when you only have $7 million you quarterback room. The Falcons have $5.7 million allotted to Heinicke and $1.2 million to Ridder this season.
The Falcons still have the money to go after Lamar Jackson if they want to, but they’re in a position where they don’t have to.
And that really seems to be bothering the national media.