Ryan, who had the highest cap number in the NFL at $40.9 million, now has a cap number of $26.9 million.
After cutting veterans Ricardo Allen, Allen Bailey and James Carpenter, the Falcons will turn their attention to restructuring contracts and perhaps to granting contract extensions to create the additional space.
The Falcons were $14.2 million over the cap, according to NFLPA documents as of Thursday evening.
Since then, strong safety Keanu Neal did not receive the franchise tag and is headed to free agency. Free safety Damontae Kazee’s agent told the AJC that he was moving on. Center Alex Mack is weighing his options, which possibly include retirement.
Kazee has drawn some interests from the Cowboys, who hired former Falcons coach Dan Quinn to be their defensive coordinator.
On Thursday, the Falcons signed four of five exclusive-rights free agents in Pro Bowl kicker Younghoe Koo, defensive end Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, cornerback Tyler Hall and wide receiver Christian Blake. The fifth, tight end Jaeden Graham, signed Friday.
The Falcons placed the $3.384 million second-round tender on restricted free agent Matt Gono, an offensive lineman, on Monday.
The Falcons are 18-30 since Ryan signed his contract in May 2018. The Falcons went 7-9, 7-9 and 4-12 because they struck out in the NFL draft and in free agency.
When Ryan signed his extension in 2018 it was the richest contract for a quarterback. More than a handful of deals have been signed since that surpass the former NFL MVP’s annual $30 million salary.
Recently, the Cowboys signed Dak Prescott to a $160 million, four-year contract with $126 million guaranteed and an NFL-record $66 million signing bonus.
At $40 million per season, Prescott ranks second in the NFL in annual salary to Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, who is at $45 million annually in a $450 million, 10-year deal that eventually could exceed $500 million in value. Houston’s Deshaun Watson is third at $39 million annually.
Ryan, who becomes a free agent in 2024, now falls to ninth on the list of top moneymakers.
The Ryan move will help to pay for the Falcons’ nine-member rookie class, which is slotted to receive $12.55 million.