The Atlanta Falcons are coming off yet another sorely disappointing 7-9 season under head coach Dan Quinn. This team started a horrendous 1-7 before a great run in the second half of the campaign.
This gave the Falcons and their fans false hope. False hope that contention could be the name of the game in 2020. False hope that Quinn was still the long-term answer on Atlanta’s sideline.
Now, with the Falcons preparing for a big offseason, I’m here to say it’s time for owner Arthur Blank and Co. to blow this whole thing up.
The why: In a top-heavy NFC, Atlanta is not contending for anything of substance over the short term. It does not have the young talent, its core is aging and multiple teams have passed this squad up.
Harsh reality: Without much young talent, the Falcons ceiling is incredibly low. And as we saw during the first half of the 2019 season, their floor is also pretty low.
-Matt Ryan is 34 years old, and has been in regression mode since earning the NFL MVP back in 2016 en route to leading Atlanta to the Super Bowl.
-Devonta Freeman could very well be done in Atlanta following a disappointing 2019 campaign that saw the former Pro Bowler average just 3.6 yards per rush and score two touchdowns on the ground.
-Recently extended, Julio Jones remains one of the game’s best talents. Set to turn 31 in February, Jones is also at the age where most receivers hit the back end of their primes.
-Defensively, Vic Beasley has not panned out. Desmond Trufant seems to be a shell of his former self. There’s a lack of true young talent on this unit.
The salary cap: According to Spotrac, Atlanta currently ranks in the bottom four of the NFL in cap room. Quick fixes in free agency are not coming this team’s way.
-Ryan, Jones, Trufant, Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, Alex Mack and Deion Jones are slated to count a combined $109-plus million against the cap in 2020.
-Of this, Atlanta can’t realistically get out of any contract to create a worthwhile amount of cap space. As an example, everyone on that list outside of Mack boasts dead cap hits of $10-plus million.
-This is not a core group capable of competing with the big boys in the NFC. That’s for sure.
-Even if the Falcons were to create $8 million in cap room by releasing Devonta Freeman and Allen Bailey (two cut candidates), it would not come close to giving this team enough cash to be big-time players in free agency.