Falcons want to re-sign Poe, Clayborn and Bryant

1. Matthew Stafford: $26.5 million 2. Derek Carr: $25 million 3. Joe Flacco: $24.75 million 4. Andrew Luck: $24.4 million 5. Russell Wilson: $23.79 million 6. Ben Roethlisberger: $23.2 million 7. Eli Manning: $22.2 million 8. Tom Brady: $22 million 8. Philip Rivers: $22 million 10. Matt Ryan: $21.65 million

Normally, in general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s regime, the Falcons have tried to re-sign their players late in the regular season in order to keep them from becoming unrestricted free agents.

Defensive tackle Dontari Poe and defensive end Adrian Clayborn are set to become unrestricted free agents if the Falcons can’t reach new deals before the league’s new business year starts in March.

However, Dimitroff wouldn’t concede that Poe and Clayborn are headed for the open market. The team has to be financially cautious as they plan to extend quarterback Matt Ryan’s contract.

“Not necessarily,” Dimitroff said when asked if Poe and Clayborn were going to become unrestricted free agents. “For us, we are in the process of truly evaluating where we are across the entire defense. Again, when you are looking at signing a quarterback, you have to make sure that you have the flexibility to do other positions. We are truly spending a lot of time looking at where we are along the defensive front and how it compares to where we might be with Matt and a couple of other guys that we are looking to re-sign.”

The Falcons are also hoping to re-sign kicker Matt Bryant.

“Matt had a very good season for us this year,” Dimitroff said. “We continue to be very proud of how he continues to kick into his age. … He’s done a very nice job and we will definitely continue to talk to him about next season.”

The Falcons want to reduce Ryan’s 2018 salary cap hit from $21.65 million. A contract extension could lessen the cap hit to as low as $10 million, significantly increasing the available money to re-sign current players or to sign other free agents.

During the 2016 season, the Falcons re-signed cornerback Robert Alford and tackle Ryan Schraeder in December.

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