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Expect Falcons’ Roster Overhaul Regardless Of Finish


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http://www.myajc.com/news/sports/football/expect-falcons-roster-overhaul-regardless-of-next-/njTKt/?ecmp=ajc_social_twitter_2014_jeffschultz_sfp#97124e80.3828699.735583

Expect Falcons’ roster overhaul regardless of finish

So have you heard? The Falcons are in control of their own destiny. It’s true. They also were in control of their own destiny before they lost to Green Bay, and before they lost to Pittsburgh, and before every game they’ve played this season, which to this point has resulted in a 5-9 record.

I think we can agree on this: “We’re in control of our own destiny” is a bit frayed at the edges.

One thing has changed this week: If the Falcons lose at New Orleans on Sunday, they won’t be in control of their own destiny. They will be dead. They will have missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season, and the focus officially will turn to a potential new head coach (likely), a potential new general manager (less certain), an early first-round draft pick (currently seventh overall) and the impending systematic destruction and rebuilding of a flawed roster.

In fact, regardless of what happens the next two weeks, that last thing is a certainty.

The Falcons will make major changes to their roster. They have no choice. Their offensive line was marginally improved this season with the potential of significant success largely undone by injuries. But they need defensive ends and linebackers. They need to elicit even a trace of fear, not lampooning, with their defense. Opposing quarterbacks are too comfortable. The continuing failure by this administration to acquire and develop pass rushers has led to increasingly embarrassing results. More than 20 teams have at least double the Falcons’ league-worst sack total of 16.

General manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith arrived together in 2008. They have been largely on the same page in personnel decisions. For that reason, I’m convinced that the decision to use two new defensive tackles, Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai, to occupy space in hopes of collapsing the middle of opposing offensive lines and turning ends Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann into some semblance of a pass-rush threat is on both of them.

It didn’t work. So enough with the fantasies.

The good news for the Falcons, whether it’s Dimitroff or someone else running the show, is the team will have enormous flexibility with roster changes. The front office will have $25 to $35 million in salary-cap space, given expiring contracts, potential cuts and a league-wide increase in the ceiling.

The roster’s five active players with the biggest salary-cap hits this season — quarterback Matt Ryan, guard Justin Blalock, wide receiver Roddy White, Soliai and wide receiver Julio Jones — almost certainly will be back. Jones is scheduled to enter the final year of his contract and likely will receive an extension this offseason.

The next five largest cap hits among active players all may exit (with this year’s base salary):

Umenyiora ($2.5 million): He has failed to improve the pass rush and his contract expires. Gone.

Running back Steven Jackson ($3 million): Don’t expect the team to pick up the last year of his deal ($3.75 million). Offensive line struggles notwithstanding, Jackson hasn’t shown enough to lead anybody to believe he’s better than cheaper options on the roster or in the free-agent market.

Biermann ($3.05 million): His a three-year, $9.15 million extension in 2012 was a debatable decision, at best. He hasn’t produced. Gone.

Wide receiver Harry Douglas ($2.75 million): He’s a solid No. 3 receiver. But he’s due a salary of $3.5 million in 2015 and that’s a lot to commit for that salary slot. Likely gone.

Kicker Matt Bryant ($2.75 million): He has earned every penny of his salary. But his contract is up, and he might be too rich of a luxury for this team to carry with other needs. Possibly gone.

Two other big salaries also may come off the books: oft-injured and maligned tackle Sam Baker ($3.25 million this year, $4.5 million next year) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon ($2.83 million).

Baker (out with a torn patellar tendon) is only two years into a six-year, $41.1 million extension, which includes $18.2 million in guarantees. The deal has blown up in the Falcons’ faces. If they cut him after June, the cap hit won’t be as significant (but still big). But it’s reasonable to believe Baker might just take his money and retire, which could reduce the cap hit further. Weatherspoon’s deal is up, but since he’s coming off another major injury (torn Achilles), he potentially could be re-signed at a non-guaranteed lower salary.

The bottom line: The Falcons have financial flexibility to significantly improve the roster if the right decisions are made. But if they had made better decisions the past two years, they wouldn’t be 5-9 this week.

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No way we let go of HD or Matt Bryant. I think Spoon comes back cheap too. Everybody else is fair game

Considering the recent injuries to Roddy and Julio, and Douglass has shown up to play lately, I would be surprised if he's gone myself. As for Matt Bryant, he left Tampa, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take a contract somewhere else for more money.

I think OSI should be gone after this season, he's done nothing since getting here, and he was the one talking about how he was going to do so many things, so he can't blame the coordinator or the other players, he brought those boastful statements himself.

JMO..........

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This team is going to struggle again next season, but it is always better to be young and struggling than it is to be old and struggling.

The most frustrating thing about the d*cked up nature of this team is that it got this way in what should have been the most prime part of Ryan's career.

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No way we let go of HD or Matt Bryant. I think Spoon comes back cheap too. Everybody else is fair game

My thoughts as well. If we get rid of Bryant, we'd better bring in a stud kicker to replace him. He's shown zero signs of slowing down, and he might be our MVP most seasons.

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Spoon has already said he'd take less or a one year deal to stay..

I think HD would restructure too.

I really think that we need to bring in some younger talent at WR, considering that all of our top 4 will be 30+ next season, but, with how well that he's played, I could be alright with waiting one more year, if Douglas was extended to lower his cap hit. I also think that we should keep Weems around for a little longer.

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Considering the recent injuries to Roddy and Julio, and Douglass has shown up to play lately, I would be surprised if he's gone myself. As for Matt Bryant, he left Tampa, I wouldn't be surprised to see him take a contract somewhere else for more money.

I think OSI should be gone after this season, he's done nothing since getting here, and he was the one talking about how he was going to do so many things, so he can't blame the coordinator or the other players, he brought those boastful statements himself.

JMO..........

We should keep extending Bryant until his legs fall off. He is still as solid as they come.

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Matt Bryant has been the best clutch kicker I have ever seen and he deserves every penny, but I don't know if they are going to pay him 3 or 4 million dollars to hit clutch kicks when they probably realize that he isn't going to be in many clutch kick situations next year.

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We should keep extending Bryant until his legs fall off. He is still as solid as they come.

I think the Falcons should, but I do wonder and question whether they will re-sign him or not. Hey, remember the experiment with Bosher playing Punter and Kicker years ago? That didn't work out good at all. Although I do wonder how it might work out at this point in time since he's got a few years of experience and knows how to handle things "I HOPE" a little better...... Not saying the Falcons should do that. Just saying, it would be interesting to see how he might handle that situation after some playing time in the NFL.

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it is not an "either/or" proposition for me hjerry - a pox on both of their houses.

having said that, the buck stops on personnel with one Thomas Dimitroff.

I find it difficult to pronounce hate on TD, knowing how much input a HC usually has, and knowing how little that our draft picks have been developed under Smith, and how improperly our FAs have been used. We just don't know how much was either. Many here have said before that Jimmy Johnson is more to praise for that Cowboys roster than Jerry Jones, so why is that not true here?

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ppl does not realize that .. It was coach smith and nolan idea to do the bigger and stronger offseason that we had

This off season wasn't the problem, it was last off season that screwed up the team.

All of them should be fired. Clean slate.

This is what scares me the most...that AB will choose to only kill half the cancer, which will only provoke it to come back with a vengeance.

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