While the Denver Broncos were part of a big trade this offseason that could potentially change the direction of their franchise and get them back in the mix with the Chiefs in the AFC West, down in Atlanta, they’re a little less optimistic.
After trading Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts this offseason, the Falcons are in a brutal position financially after being left with $40.5 million in dead money, which is added to the $15.5 million they were left with from Julio Jones, as well as additional hits by Dante Fowler ($4.7 million) and Tyeler Davision ($1.2 million). That adds up to $61.9 million in dead money, which accounts for close to 30% of their cap number for 2022.
That’s pretty unbelievable.
The thought appears to be that not moving Ryan a year ago when they could have potentially gotten more for him was a major mistake, and now Atlanta is paying dearly for it. Worse yet, had they moved on from Ryan last offseason, the Falcons had a shot at Justin Fields and Mac Jones in the 2021 Draft but instead went with tight end Kyle Pitts with the #4 overall selection.
While Pitts had an outstanding rookie season after finishing with 68 receptions for 1,026-yards and a touchdown, it doesn’t change the fact that the Falcons now have an all-world tight end without a proven quarterback to throw him the football.
As it currently stands, Atlanta replaced Ryan with Marcus Mariota and they have Feleipe Franks behind him. Franks was inconsistent at the University of Florida and had a decent career at Arkansas, but it remains to be seen if he can become a starting-caliber player in the NFL.
Mike Sando of The Athletic spoke to one NFL executive recently who probably said it best when it comes to the Falcons’ situation, with last year’s trade of Matthew Stafford and Jarod Goff being a prime example of knowing when to move on at the right time.
“I think they just gave Matt Ryan away to wherever he wanted to go,” one exec told Sando. “One year ago, they get at least a one for him. That’s why Detroit moved so quickly trading (Matthew) Stafford, to get ahead of all the other quarterbacks’ dominoes that could have fallen. Atlanta waited, which is why Matt Ryan went for a three.”
And that’s why the Falcons are hamstrung with a lot of dead money and don’t have much to show for it. It’s amazing how far they’ve fallen, and it seems like they’ve definitely got their work cut out for them for the foreseeable future.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Portions of the above appeared in this morning’s news and notes column.)
Posted Under: NFL
Tags: Atlanta Falcons Denver Broncos Feleipe Franks Jared Goff Marcus Mariota Matt Ryan Matthew Stafford