The Atlanta Falcons got good news when news leaked last week that the NFL salary cap in 2022 is expected to increase from $182.5 million in 2021 to $208.2 million in 2022.
The increase of $25.7 million is a helpful thing for the Falconsm who had to trade Julio Jones last spring just to have enough room under the 2021 cap to sign their draft picks.
The bad news for the Falcons is with escalating contracts, they are now just $14.5 million under the cap, 24th in the NFL according to Spotrac.
A whopping 68% of Atlanta's 2022 salary cap is allocated to just five players under contract with the Falcons, and one player, Julio Jones, playing for the Tennessee Titans.
|Player||2022 Cap Hit|
Quarterback Matt Ryan's $48.7 million cap hit in 2022 is scheduled to be the highest in all of football, making him a candidate for a restructured deal to free up space. Ryan currently has two years left on the five-year, $180 million deal he signed in 2018.
The other four highest cap hits for Falcons players include defensive lineman Grady Jarrett ($23.8 million, left tackle Jake Matthews ($23.7 million), linebacker Deion Jones ($20 million), and wide receiver Calvin Ridley ($11.1 million).
Jarrett is under contract for one more season with Atlanta. He's scheduled to be a free agent in 2023. An extension for Jarrett would also free up more cap space in 2022.
Matthews also has two years left on his contract and is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2023 season. His dead cap number drops from $19.6 million in 2022 to $8.4 million in 2023 meaning the Falcons could save roughly $14 million in cap space if they part ways before the 2023 season.
Jones' dead cap number comes off the books after the 2022 season. He will count $15.5 million against Atlanta next season.
The Falcons have options when it comes to Ridley. The Falcoholic did a nice job of exploring the options the Falcons have with Ridley's status, who walked away from the Falcons on Halloween for personal reasons.
They originally picked up his $11.1 million option for 2022, but because he's on the Non-Football Injury list, the Falcons aren't obligated to increase his salary from $1.97 million in 2021 to $11.1 million in 2022.
The common theme for the Falcons is the salary cap problems the team faced in 2021 should be the low point. Atlanta is already in a better position for 2022 than last year, with more options for increasing their spending power.
And then, 2023 is when the Falcons should be big players in the free agent market again.
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