Jeremy Fowler of ESPN is reporting what has been widely accepted in the Atlanta Falcons community: Keanu Neal isn’t expected to be hit with the Franchise Tag.
Neal has shown flashes of brilliance with the Falcons in his five year career, but he has only played 18 games in the last three seasons.
When he’s healthy, Neal is arguably the best strong safety the Falcons have ever had. It’s a short list, but he hasn’t been healthy since 2017 when he started every game and made the Pro-Bowl.
Neal made $6.5M in 2020, and he would have been paid nearly double that if the Falcons put the Franchise Tag on him. The Franchise Tag is a one year contract that pays the player the average of the five highest salaries at the position.
That’s too big a risk for Neal with his history of injuries.
The Falcons also waived safety Ricardo Allen. With the salary cap problems the Falcons are having, they’re going to need to find value in free agency and the draft in order to field a starting secondary.
We’ve discussed three safeties that might be available in the third round of next month’s draft.
The Falcons would love to have a 100% healthy Keanu Neal back in Atlanta, but it would have to be at a discount after paying him close to $10M over the last three seasons.