rainn.png
Wednesday May 12th, 2021 6:39AM

Falcons looking to get creative as they face major overhaul

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

ATLANTA (AP) — Taking over a team that has endured three straight losing seasons, the Atlanta Falcons' new regime is understandably reluctant to warn of more misery as they attempt to sort out major salary cap issues.

Yet it's clear that incoming general manager Terry Fontenot and rookie coach Arthur Smith are prepping for a big overhaul.

Fontenot said Tuesday that the Falcons, coming off a miserable 4-12 season, will have to be creative in how they build the roster for 2021.

“We'll make decisions that help the team win this year, but we've also got to think of future years — 2022, 2023 — so there's a balance to it," he said. “We want to be as competitive as possible now, while also keeping the future in mind.”

Fontenot and Smith inherited a huge headache with the salary cap, which already forced the team to cut starting safety Riccardo Allen and will undoubtedly lead to more painful decisions.

According to overthecap.com, the Falcons are still more than $20 million over the projected 2021 cap of $180 million. While the final numbers won't be sorted out until next month, the cap appears headed for its biggest drop ever — perhaps some $18 million — because of the financial hit caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The cap could rise a but, but no matter how it all pans out, the Falcons are sure to be in a cost-cutting mode. Fontenot said as much when he talked about his plans for constructing a roster that has only one quarterback, Matt Ryan, and more than two dozen spots to fill.

“We have to make some hard decisions on players that are on this roster," the GM said. “We have to go find players. We can't just build this roster with overpaid players from free agency and top draft picks. We have to really dig and find value in free agency.”

The Falcons have spent the last few years doling out huge contracts to key players, most notably Ryan and receiver Julio Jones.

Ryan, the Falcons' starting QB since 2008, is coming off another productive season, but he'll turn 36 in May and his cap hit for this season ($40.9 million) is a huge roadblock when it comes to addressing other needs.

Then there's Jones, who has the second-highest cap hit on the team ( $23.05 million). At 32, he is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he played only nine games, raising serious questions about his future with the team.

Taking the same line as Fontenot, Smith tiptoed around the perception that wins will be hard to come by in the short term.

“It's a year-to-year build," the new coach said. “It's a challenge every year. Things change. You never just run (the same players) back out there. There's constant team building.”

The Falcons hold the No. 4 pick in the NFL draft, which will likely signal what path the team is taking in its overhaul. With three quarterbacks — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Justin Fields — expected to go early, the Falcons could stay where they are and start the process of grooming Ryan's successor.

Or they could trade down to acquire additional draft picks, which would give the Falcons a chance to address myriad needs on their depleted roster.

“Some really good players will be there at four," Fontenot said. “There's a lot of different scenarios to go through. It's a prime spot to be in. It's not a spot we want to be in very often, but we've got to take advantage of it and be open to all possibilities.”

Fontenot seemed to indicate he's not looking to use the No. 4 pick on a QB.

“We want to utilize all avenues, whether it's free agency or at any point in the draft or even after draft," he said. "I've been in places where we traded for quarterbacks. You're always looking to bring in quarterbacks.”

One person in the organization is putting in especially long hours. Chris Olsen, the new director of football administration, is charged with getting the team under the salary cap.

It's a daunting task.

“He was all clean-shaven when he got here. But every day, his beard gets a little longer," Fontenot joked. “Whether I'm getting into the office or leaving the office, his light is on. He's working hard."

Fontenot had made it clear what he expects.

“We have to look at what is best for the big picture," the GM said. "It's not just about getting under the cap. It's about making good decisions. It's a challenge for all of us.”

___

Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at https://twitter.com/pnewberry1963 His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paulnewberry

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Business, AP Online - Georgia News, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
'60 Minutes,' 'Equalizer' strong Sunday punch for CBS
Queen Latifah is becoming a TV star for CBS at a time broadcast networks can use one
5:43PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Falcons looking to get creative as they face major overhaul
Taking over a team that has endured three straight losing seasons, the Atlanta Falcons’ new regime is understandably reluctant to say more misery is coming
5:30PM ( 17 minutes ago )
States rush to catch up on delayed vaccines, expand access
States are scrambling to catch up on coronavirus vaccinations after bad weather last week led to clinic closures and shipment backlogs
5:27PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Seattle doing damage control with players after exec's video
Seattle Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto and manager Scott Servais are doing damage control with players who were directly mentioned or referenced by former team CEO Kevin Mather in an online video that led to his resignation
4:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
Pau Gasol says he's going home, signing again with Barcelona
Pau Gasol is going home
3:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
Tiger Woods suffers leg injuries after California car crash
Authorities and Tiger Woods' manager say the golf star has suffered leg injuries in a vehicle rollover in suburban Los Angeles and is undergoing surgery
3:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Shailene Woodley confirms she's engaged to Aaron Rodgers
Shailene Woodley has confirmed she’s engaged to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
12:40AM ( 17 hours ago )
The Latest: Mexico receives shipment of Sputnik V vaccine
Mexico has received the first shipment of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine
11:57PM ( 17 hours ago )
The Latest: Philippine leader won't ease virus restrictions
The Philippine president will reject recommendations to further ease coronavirus quarantine restrictions across the country until a delayed vaccination campaign kicks off
10:08PM ( 19 hours ago )
AP Online Football
The Latest: Kansas businesses not to repay COVID loans
Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said Tuesday that Hospitality businesses who got loans through an emergency relief fund in Kansas at the beginning of the pandemic will no longer have to repay the money
4:51PM ( 56 minutes ago )
Mars rover's giant parachute carried secret message
The huge parachute used by NASA's Perseverance rover to land on Mars contained a secret message
4:49PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Things to Know: Vaccine producers promise big jump in doses
Executives from the major COVID-19 vaccine producers have said to expect a big jump in the delivery of doses over the coming month
4:49PM ( 59 minutes ago )
AP Business
Memorials, lawsuit mark death anniversary of Ahmaud Arbery
The mother of Ahmaud Arbery has filed a civil lawsuit on the anniversary of his death that accuses three men charged with chasing and shooting him with violating his civil rights
2:43PM ( 3 hours ago )
Ahmaud Arbery memorialized in Georgia a year after slaying
The mother of Ahmaud Arbery has filed a civil lawsuit on the anniversary of his death that accuses three men charged with chasing and shooting him with violating his civil rights
1:38PM ( 4 hours ago )
In year of pandemic, Home Depot became supplier to millions
The Home Depot’s fiscal fourth-quarter sales surged 25% as the home improvement chain continues to meet the demands of consumers stuck at home and a resilient housing market
9:32AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online - Georgia News
The Latest: Fans to be allowed at New Jersey sports venues
Starting next week, fans will be allowed to attend sports and entertainment events at New Jersey’s largest facilities in limited numbers
12:36PM ( 1 day ago )
AP source: Buffalo Bills LB Matt Milano to test free agency
The Associated Press is reporting that Buffalo Bills liniebacker Matt Milano will explore free agency next month
1:13PM ( 4 days ago )
AP source: Eagles send Carson Wentz to Colts for draft picks
A person familiar with the deal tells The Associated Press that the Philadelphia Eagles have agreed to trade Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts
3:31PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Sports - NFL
'60 Minutes,' 'Equalizer' strong Sunday punch for CBS
Queen Latifah is becoming a TV star for CBS at a time broadcast networks can use one
5:43PM ( 5 minutes ago )
States rush to catch up on delayed vaccines, expand access
States are scrambling to catch up on coronavirus vaccinations after bad weather last week led to clinic closures and shipment backlogs
5:27PM ( 20 minutes ago )
HHS pick says pandemic is top job, but agenda is broader
Health secretary nominee Xavier Becerra is telling senators that the coronavirus pandemic will be his first priority if confirmed, but he's also pledging to expand health insurance, rein in prescription drug costs and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in medical care
5:26PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Judge says wife of drug kingpin 'El Chapo' must stay in jail
A U.S. judge has ordered the wife of Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to remain behind bars on charges she helped her husband run his multibillion-dollar criminal empire
5:25PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Tiger Woods seriously injured in California car crash
Authorities say Tiger Woods has been seriously injured after his SUV rolled over and ended up on its side in suburban Los Angeles
5:23PM ( 24 minutes ago )