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ESPN’s ‘Big Prediction’ for Atlanta Falcons, Not So Big

The Atlanta Falcons are entering the 2023-offseason with a top-10 draft pick for the third year in a row. But this year the Falcons have the luxury of salary-cap space that is currently the second most in the NFL according to Spotrac.

The available-cap space comes before any potential cuts or contract restructures including Jake Matthew’s $34-million cap hit in 2023.

In short, it’s an exciting time to be the general manager of the Atlanta Falcons after trudging through “cap hell” the last two years.

ESPN released an offseason checklist for each NFL team including a “Big prediction for the offseason” by Football Outsiders’ Aaron Schatz.

With a top-ten pick, with $75-million+ in cap space available when all is said and done, what was the “big prediction” from ESPN for the Falcons?

The Falcons will cut quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was benched for Ridder. Cutting Mariota opens up $12 million in cap space with $2.5 million of dead money. Aaron Schatz

That’s the big prediction? That Marcus Mariota is going to be cut? Well… he’s not wrong.

Marcus Mariota signed a two-year, $18.8-million deal last year with the Falcons. Because he had just a $2.5-million dead-cap number in 2023, it was ALWAYS a one-year deal. The Falcons ate $40-million of dead-cap money on Matt Ryan in 2022.

Was $2.5 million going to save Mariota?

Mariota’s exit from the team this season was less than amicable. He had knee surgery after being benched which ended his season, and head coach Arthur Smith made reference that he didn’t know about the injury.

Mariota didn’t return to the team.

Marcus Mariota will be cut. The Falcons will add another $12-million in salary-cap space for the 2023 season.

That’s not a big prediction.

That’s inevitable.

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Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.