By: Kipp Branch
TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services
In professional sports, a salary cap is an agreement or rule that places a limit on the amount of money that a team can spend on players’ salaries. It exists as a per-player limit or a total limit for the team’s roster, or both.
Several sports leagues have implemented salary caps, using them to keep overall costs down, and to maintain a competitive balance by restricting richer clubs from entrenching dominance by signing many more top players than their rivals.
That could also explain why the Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Bill Clinton was President.
The NFL has set its salary cap for the upcoming season. Teams are expected to have $224.8 million in cap space, which puts the Falcons’ 2023 cap space at more than $56 million.
So, in other words the Falcons have money to spend in Free Agency. Gone are the big cap hits for Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and a couple of others.
NFL teams have until 4PM on March 15th to get under the Cap. The NFL Free Agency period begins on the same date.
The Falcons could free up additional cap space by restructuring some current contracts and after the release of Marcus Mariota that could put the Falcons near the $70M mark in cap space. Only Chicago has more cap room than Atlanta.
By releasing Marcus Mariota, the Atlanta Falcons have freed up an additional $12 million, giving them the second-most available cap space to pursue someone like Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens.
The NFL is a QB driven league and the Falcons have not been very good at the position for a couple of seasons now since the departure of Ryan.
Lamar Jackson wants a deal like what Deshaun Watson got in Cleveland. Rumors out of Baltimore suggest the Ravens do not want to fully guarantee a long term deal with Jackson.
The Ravens could place the franchise tag on Jackson and force him to play at a designated salary, but that hurts the possibly of Jackson agreeing to a long term deal in Baltimore moving forward.
If Jackson is franchised and eventually leaves when he is an unrestricted free agent, then the Ravens are left with nothing.
For 2023, the Ravens can place the exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, worth $45 million, which is essentially a one-year deal.
Jackson can either accept it or stage a holdout to force a trade or extension. Baltimore can also use the non-exclusive franchise tag, worth $32.4 million, which allows Jackson to hit the market but gives the Ravens the right of first refusal.
If another team offers and Jackson signs the contract offer, Baltimore gets to match that deal or let Jackson go.
In return for Jackson’s hypothetical departure, the Ravens would receive two first-round draft choices. The Ravens must apply that tag to Jackson by March 7th. Expect them to do so to buy time to work out a long-term extension or a trade before the NFL draft or possibly sooner.
Atlanta has long been rumored to be a landing sport for Jackson in a potential trade.
The offensive scheme in Atlanta is a great fit for Lamar. The city would be energized with Jackson leading the Falcons. The Falcons have the cap space to sign Jackson to a long term deal, and with the releasing of Mariota it appears the Falcons are in the market for a QB.
If the Falcons can’t pull off the blockbuster deal for Jackson then they must address the position in the April draft.
Will Levis from Kentucky could be a target. The Falcons have needs at OL, WR, and CB that could also be addressed during free agency and the draft.
Lamar Jackson in Atlanta would be Christmas come early for Falcons fans. The last time Atlanta had an MVP QB they were in the Super Bowl and he is only 26 years old.