The Atlanta Falcons appear right on the cusp of pushing their way to a Super Bowl appearance, but like many other teams they are bumping right up against the salary cap. With that in mind, D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution took a look at how the Falcons may approach roster decisions for a number of key players this offseason.
"[T]he Falcons have about $1.7 million of cap space before the start of the new NFL year. That’s barely enough room to offer restricted free agent tenders to running back Antone Smith, cornerback Robert McClain and tight end Michael Palmer," he wrote.
"The Falcons also have to consider addressing the contracts of future free agents like quarterback Matt Ryan (eligible in 2014), defensive tackle Corey Peters (2014), wide receiver Roddy White (2015) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (2015).
"If the Falcons want to bring back [TE Tony Gonzalez] and re-sign [LT Sam Baker] and [S William Moore], they will have to renegotiate several contracts and make other financial cuts to gain additional cap room. Releasing [Michael Turner] and [John Abraham] could net the Falcons $10.4 million of cap space. Other players like [LB Stephen Nicholas], [CB Dunta Robinson] and right tackle Tyson Clabo could be renegotiation prospects."
Surely, retaining free agents like Moore and Brent Grimes will cost them a pretty penny. ESPN NFL Insider Bill Polian pegs both as A-tier free agents:
"[Grimes is a] solid young player, but injury concern (Achilles) might reduce his value. He's a starting-caliber corner if he answers his health question. ... Moore is not a spectacular player, but he could start for most teams in the league. He's a good all-around type, solid in all phases of the game."