Falcons are $6.7 million under salary cap with free agency set to start

The Falcons finished the 2018 season with a record of 7-9.

Team must get Jarrett done to create space or re-do other contracts

With free agency set to start Wednesday, the Falcons are $6.7 million under the $188.2 million salary cap and will not be major players.

Falcons backup quarterback Matt Schaub signed his two-year, $3.780 million contract extension Tuesday, according to NFLPA documents.

Schaub received a $750,000 signing bonus and has a base salary of $1.030 million for 2019. His salary-cap number is $1.405 for 2019.

The team can exercise the option for 2020 which calls for a $2 million base salary with a salary-cap number of $2.375 million.

With Schaub’s deal and the franchise tag of Grady Jarrett at $15.209 million, the Falcons will need $8 million for incoming rookie class in May.

“You don’t really need it until you’re ready to sign the guys,” said CBS Sports NFL business analyst Joel Corry, a former agent. “That will happen at the earliest in mid-May. All teams like to have their guys done when minicamp breaks. I’d say mid-June would be the latest by when they’d need that room.”

Several Falcons are about to become unrestricted free agents.

Left guard Andy Levitre, kicker Matt Bryant, guard Ben Garland, defensive end Derrick Shelby, cornerback Justin Bethel, defensive tackle Terrell McClain, linebacker Bruce Irvin, long snapper Joe Condo, tight end Logan Paulsen, safety Jordan Richards, guard Zane Beadles, running back Tevin Coleman, wide receiver Justin Hardy, cornerback Brian Poole and wide receiver/returner Marvin Hall are all set to become unrestricted free agents at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Bryant, who plans to keep playing at age 44, is expected to sign with Tampa Bay.

Coleman is expected to draw some interest on the opening market and could land a deal better than the four-year, $30-million deal that San Francisco gave Jerick McKinnon last season.

Poole will also get some free-agency interest.

Levitre, the opening-day starter the past four seasons, wants to continue playing after two injury-plagued seasons. He turns 33 in May.

While the Falcons don’t have enough funds to pursue any high-end free agents, they are expected to try to sign an offensive lineman.

The list of interior linemen to keep an eye on includes Kevin Pamphile, Nick Easton and J.R. Sweezy.

The Falcons tried to sign Sweezy in 2016, but Tampa Bay gave him a five-year, $32.5 million deal. He was injured in 2016 and was released after playing in 2017. He played 15 games, while splitting time between right guard and left guard for Seattle last season.

Pamphile, 28, played with four seasons at Tampa Bay before signing with Tennessee last season. He’s played some left guard and right tackle. If they sign him, Ty Sambrailo could move inside to right guard.

Easton made 12 starts last season for Minnesota.

The Falcons can create more salary-cap space by reaching a deal with Jarrett or by restructuring some current contracts.

The Falcons could lower the salary cap by reaching a deal with Jarrett.

“He’s not Aaron Donald,” Corry said. “I know he has the same agent as Aaron Donald. He’s not Aaron Donald. Aaron Donald is a once in a generation-type player. If that’s where the agent is, then you’re never getting a long-term deal done. He’s going to be playing the season on the franchise tag.”

Donald signed a six-year, $135 million deal that averages $22.5 million per year.

“To me, what’s more realistic is the agent’s other client, Fletcher Cox,” Corry said. “That was done in 2016, so it’s a three-year-old. If you adjusted Fletcher Cox (six years, $103 million) to the current cap environment, you are basically at $21 million per year. Grady is not a $21 million year player, but if you take the actual deal that Fletcher did three years ago, maybe that’s a fair approximation if you look at him from a standpoint that you’ll have to tag him twice and you average the two tags, you’re going to basically be almost at $17 (million) anyway, $16.5 (million), $17 (million) is probably the right range per year.”

FALCONS TOP 10 CAP NUMBERS FOR 2019

Matt Ryan, $22.8 million

Grady Jarrett, $15.2 million

Desmond Trufant, $13.9 million

Julio Jones, $13.4 million

Vic Beasley, $12.8 million

Jake  Matthews, $11 million

Alex Mack, $11 million

Ryan Schraeder, $7.7 million

Mohamed Sanu, $7.6 million

Devonta Freeman, $6.7 million

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