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Goober Pyle

Bad contract decisions after Super Bowl led to Falcons’ roster slash

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https://theathletic.com/1678965/2020/03/16/schultz-bad-contract-decisions-after-super-bowl-led-to-falcons-roster-slash/?source=shared-article

 

The Falcons, who for weeks have denied they were in salary cap ****, donned their fire-retardant suits Monday and prepared to take a blow torch to their roster.

Welcome to reality.

Cornerback Desmond Trufant and running back Devonta Freeman, who never lived up to big contract extensions and for months were considered the most likely veterans to be slashed from the roster, will be released this week, according to reports by the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport, respectively. (Two reserves, tackle Ty Sambrailo and tight end Luke Stocker, also were released, the team announced.)

These moves follow the decision to not bring back Vic Beasley (made that mistake once already), let it slip they almost certainly will not exercise the fifth-year option on the sporadic Takk McKinley (lesson learned with Beasley) and the likely exits of free agents Austin Hooper, who reportedly has agreed to a deal with Cleveland, and De’Vondre Campbell for financial reasons.

I’ll get to the specific salary cap ramifications of all this shortly. But first, it’s important to understand how the Falcons got into this mess.

This franchise has made a number of smart personnel decisions and draft picks during the past decade, fan and media criticism notwithstanding. Before 2008, when general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Mike Smith took over, the franchise never had consecutive winning seasons. After the regime change, the team had five straight winning seasons and made the playoffs four times, including an NFC title game appearance. It has gone to six postseasons in the past 12 seasons, including a Super Bowl berth.

The problem has been what has occurred since 2016: a series of post-Super Bowl bad contracts that contributed to a second-round exit in 2017 and non-playoff seasons the past two years.

Dimitroff, with the blessing of owner Arthur Blank, and presumably input from head coaches Smith and Dan Quinn, gave large deals to the wrong players. The Falcons rewarded their draft picks with second contracts that would hamstring them in later years. You may want to sit down for this:

• Trufant: He was thought to have the potential to be an elite cornerback. It turned out he was only a good one. He’s well-liked but never grew up into the locker room leader the team hoped for, a problem with so many young players on defense. In short, he didn’t live up to his five-year, $68.75 million extension, even though he was a good player in 2019. He will leave with three years on his deal. It’s important to note that the Falcons went to the Super Bowl in 2016 without Trufant, who suffered a shoulder surgery at midseason. The extension was given to him two months after the Super Bowl.

• Freeman: Another miscalculation. He far outperformed his contract for a fourth-round draft pick in 2015 and 2016, making two Pro Bowls and rushing for 22 touchdowns and more than 2,100 yards. He also was genuinely one of the most popular players in the locker room and had an inspiring backstory, having risen from the projects in Miami. But post-Super Bowl was different. Freeman was frequently injured the next three seasons, missing 18 games, and last season rushed for a career-low 3.6 yards per carry (down from 4.8 in 2016) and scored only two touchdowns with 656 yards in 14 games. With one year left on his rookie contract, he was given a five-year, $41.25 million extension before 2017. He leaves with three years left. Freeman’s contract also meant the team could not re-sign Tevin Coleman, who rejoined Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco.

• Beasley: The oft-repeated misstep of honoring his fifth-year, $12.8 million option squeezed the Falcons in the cap last season. Part of that decision stemmed from their relationship with the sports agency, CAA, which also represented Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett in pending negotiations. But Quinn, who had taken over as defensive coordinator for 2019, also believed he could get more out of Beasley as an edge rusher. He was wrong.

• Cornerback Robert Alford signed a four-year, $38 million extension after the Super Bowl. He was released after 2018, saving overall cap space but leaving a $1.2 million dead money hit in 2019.

Bottom line: Trufant’s release causes a $10.2 million dead cap hit. The team can more than split that in half if he’s designated for a post-June 1 release, as expected. The 2020 hit would be $4.4 million, according to Spotrac. Freeman likewise would be a $6 million hit, or $3 million each in 2020 and 2021 if it’s post-June 1.

This is on top of “dead money” the team will carry in 2020 for Ryan Schraeder ($2.5 million; didn’t live up to a five-year extension given to him in November of 2016), Sambrailo ($2 million; released) and Mohamed Sanu ($1.4 million; traded).

The salary cap will increase $10 million to $198.2 million in the new CBA. But teams close to the cap, including the Falcons, were hoping it would be more than $200 million because part of the increase will be consumed by minimum salaries rising $100,000 in the new CBA.

This is why re-signing Hooper and Campbell was always considered a longshot.

This is why significant improvement this offseason was always considered a longshot.

The Falcons, who need to improve their pass rush, could attempt to sign outside linebacker Dante Fowler, who had 11.5 sacks with the Los Angeles Rams last season. Quinn knows Fowler from their Florida days. Fowler also played for two former Dimitroff assistants, Dave Caldwell in Jacksonville and Les Snead in Los Angeles. But Fowler, who suffered a torn ACL in his rookie season, generally underperformed with the Jaguars and his 11.5 sacks in 2019 should be weighed against the advantages of playing in a front with Aaron Donald and Clay Matthews.

Other options include free agent Jadeveon Clowney and Jacksonville’s Yannick Ngakoue (who has been franchise tagged at $19.3 million). Both will get big contracts, and Ngakoue would cost the Falcons draft picks assets.

NFL teams regularly circumvent the salary cap by restricting deals, moving guaranteed money up front to satisfy the player and borrowing against the future. But at some point, the bill comes due. That’s what we’re seeing here.

The Falcons are knee-deep into their second mortgage.

 

 

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Read this article yesterday. I think the powers that be decided we were only a piece or two away and figured they would just deal with the consequences 2-3 years later. When the team took a step backward, the entire strategy became a flop and now they're trying to scramble to save their jobs. Relying on impact rookies seems like a dangerous strategy for a couple of guys trying to save their skins, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was at least 1 more trade involving draft picks for a proven player on the horizon. DQ and TD are not going to be thinking long-term (not that they really ever have).

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Alfords deal was signed before the superbowl.

 

I hate these type of pieces because he is totally ignoring the market.

Beasley for example was paid the going rate....I know people do not want to believe that but that is the nature of the nfl...look no further than the deal Fowler signed with the Rams after trading for him...more than Beasley and he had less production.

Same with Trufant....look at his deal and then look at deals other corners signed around the same time....all in same ball park.

 

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2 minutes ago, falconsd56 said:

Alfords deal was signed before the superbowl.

 

I hate these type of pieces because he is totally ignoring the market.

Beasley for example was paid the going rate....I know people do not want to believe that but that is the nature of the nfl...look no further than the deal Fowler signed with the Rams after trading for him...more than Beasley and he had less production.

Same with Trufant....look at his deal and then look at deals other corners signed around the same time....all in same ball park.

 

Total hindsight article. lol. I stopped reading halfway through it. 

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19 minutes ago, FentayeJones said:

Total hindsight article. lol. I stopped reading halfway through it. 

It’s an article focusing on personnel moves since 2016.  Of course it’s hindsight.  But it’s also not wrong.  Falcons have a history of trying to keep all their own guys which is good...and bad when you continue doing so without the proper cap space.  But the bolded is 100% accurate.

NFL teams regularly circumvent the salary cap by restricting deals, moving guaranteed money up front to satisfy the player and borrowing against the future. But at some point, the bill comes due. That’s what we’re seeing here.

The Falcons are knee-deep into their second mortgage.”  And it’s a sub prime second mortgage to boot

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4 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

It’s an article focusing on personnel moves since 2016.  Of course it’s hindsight.  But it’s also not wrong.  Falcons have a history of trying to keep all their own guys which is good...and bad when you continue doing so without the proper cap space.  But the bolded is 100% accurate.

NFL teams regularly circumvent the salary cap by restricting deals, moving guaranteed money up front to satisfy the player and borrowing against the future. But at some point, the bill comes due. That’s what we’re seeing here.

The Falcons are knee-deep into their second mortgage.”  And it’s a sub prime second mortgage to boot

Yeah, whatever. 

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13 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

It’s an article focusing on personnel moves since 2016.  Of course it’s hindsight.  But it’s also not wrong.  Falcons have a history of trying to keep all their own guys which is good...and bad when you continue doing so without the proper cap space.  But the bolded is 100% accurate.

NFL teams regularly circumvent the salary cap by restricting deals, moving guaranteed money up front to satisfy the player and borrowing against the future. But at some point, the bill comes due. That’s what we’re seeing here.

The Falcons are knee-deep into their second mortgage.”  And it’s a sub prime second mortgage to boot

Exactly.   Doesn’t matter if the article is hindsight or not.   The Falcons were caught in a pattern of re-signing all of their draft picks that panned out and were successful.   You just can’t pay everyone and sometimes you are better to let a player walk and get the comp pick.

Falcons still have about one big contract too many now but don’t see the ax falling again this off-season.   Alex Mack needs to go but we just cannot do it now with the state of the offensive line.

Just being a good draft pick doesn’t mean you need to be re-signed.

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15 minutes ago, Falcanuck said:

Freeman was the only miscalculation imo. RB isn’t a position you pay and Tevin would have been significantly cheaper. Everyone else kinda makes sense, because well they made the super bowl and probably should have won. 

Probably should have played the Franchise Tag game with Trufant coming off the injury in missed SB season - had we done that, probably wouldn’t have given the long-term deal.

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Yea TD crapped the bed with dumb contracts, over paying non impact players that ended up being injury prone and letting good players walk.

We way over paid for 2 crappy OL last year then ended up using draft picks the OL.

Also TDs inability to build a DL that can rush the passer over 13 years should get him fired.

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7 minutes ago, MAD597 said:

Yea TD crapped the bed with dumb contracts, over paying non impact players that ended up being injury prone and letting good players walk.

We way over paid for 2 crappy OL last year then ended up using draft picks the OL.

Also TDs inability to build a DL that can rush the passer over 13 years should get him fired.

Lol what good player walked? 

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When it comes to signing contracts at times it seems like the team is bidding against itself..and the two FA guards signed last year?..wow! Until this franchise starts to understand the "business" side of football it will always be this roller coaster. And if I hear "Falcon for life" one more time again..well.:bang:

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Not a mention of the injury riddled 2018 and a complete melt down on the coaching front first half of last year.

Throw in some poor coaching hires over the given period haven’t also helped.

Sure some of these decisions around contracts have hurt but these morons in the media who slant articles without taking in context of the big picture are just horse manure.

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Falcons are notorious for paying players that don’t deserve it. Also keeping players way too long and not paying attention to the value. Just take a second and think of how many players have left this team and never played another snap on the NFL. 

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5 hours ago, Falcanuck said:

Lmao OK so nobody until 2-3 years AFTER a SB. Cool man. And you named 2. Not a few. 

Moron

Lol I thought Canadians were nice ppl. I tell u what I’ve never met a Canadian woman who isn’t an absolute knock out! 

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7 hours ago, Summerhill said:

This is pretty common knowledge among anyone paying attention. However, when writing this in the context of not having the money to pay Hooper or Campbell, why is anyone so sure neither of them wouldn't be the next Beasley, Trufant, or Freeman? 

Exactly, that’s my feeling too...I didn’t love but didn’t hate Trufant’s contract, I thought Alfords was solid, Freeman was market, Beasleys last season was the only true head scratcher of these listed

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3 hours ago, RYNE said:

Falcons are notorious for paying players that don’t deserve it. Also keeping players way too long and not paying attention to the value. Just take a second and think of how many players have left this team and never played another snap on the NFL. 

we never ever play the compensatory pick game. sometimes a 3rd is worth more than another mediocre season or 2. Piss poor at projecting 

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