Atlanta Falcons – Projected Cap Space: $26.3M
Upcoming Free Agents:
QB Matt Schaub FB Patrick DiMarco
*WR Taylor Gabriel WR Eric Weems
WR Aldrick Robinson TE Jacob Tamme
TE Levine Toilolo OG Chris Chester
*OG Ben Garland OG Tom Compton
LB Dwight Freeney LB LaRoy Reynolds
*LB Tyler Starr LB Sean Weatherspoon
LB Philip Wheeler LB Paul Worrilow
SS Kemal Ishmael *SS Akeem King
The Falcons have the least amount of salary cap space heading into free-agency as it stands
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currently. With a handful of these names on the short list when it comes to shelf-life most of the players under contract for 2018 are under 30, so there won’t be much in retirement relief coming their way.
This makes who they keep and who they let walk critical if they’re going to repeat as NFC South champs in 2017, or even compete at the same level as they did this season.
MUST KEEP – WR, Taylor Gabriel
As the Falcons’ third leading receiver, he may not get the credit star Julio Jones gets, but don’t sleep on how important he is to this team’s high-flying offense.
Atlanta doesn’t evoke visions of grind-it-out drives, and Gabriel is one of the reasons they won’t have to.
MOST EXPENDABLE – LB, Dwight Freeney
I’m as much a fan of Freeney as anyone is, and his ability to perform into his mid-30s certainly deserves a lot of adulation, but it’s time for him to see what life after football has in store for him.
For this roster, whether they find some youth in free-agency or in the draft, there’s no reason they can’t find a way to fill in for his 10 tackles and three sacks for less than $1M.
MOST LIKELY TO JOIN A RIVAL – LB, Paul Worrilow
A 26-year old linebacker who plays best in the middle, but can play on the outside if needed, Worrilow was a starter in Atlanta until the emergence of rookie Deion Jones pushed him to the bench.
While he may end up returning to play behind the young star in the making, it’s likely the fourth-year player will be looking for starting vacancies around the league before making a final decision.
Each of the three NFC South rivals has openings in their starting lineup entering free-agency, and the cap room to bring in a still young linebacker to fill a void for an affordable amount.