The Atlanta Falcons have quite a bit of cap room as they sit right now. After applying the franchise tag to Brent Grimes, they brought the cap from $30.6 million to right at the $20 million point. These cap casualty possibilities are players who have production or injuries that will not meet their cap hit for 2012. These are also players that could have become bad scheme fits for the Falcons and could be better off in free agency.
Cost to keep: $7 million
Cost to cut: $2 million
Cap Space Freed up if Cut: $5 million
Why it could make sense: The Falcons are looking into switching into a scheme where the running backs get more passes out of the backfield, and there is some question as to whether Michael Turner can fit the scheme. However, Mike Smith thinks that he won't have any issue, and for a guy who was top three in the NFL in rushing yards in three of the past four seasons, Turner is easily worth the contract that is right at the franchise tag amount.
FB Ovie Mughelli
Cost to keep: $3.833 million
Cost to cut: $0.833 million
Cap Space Freed up if Cut: $3 million
Why it could make sense: Ovie Mughelli is coming off an ACL and MCL injury that sidelined him for the 2011 season. Mughelli is only worth a veteran minimum contract coming off the surgery to fix his injury, and his best possible fit is in a power rushing scheme that the Falcons are moving away from with Dirk Koetter taking over the offense. It makes more financial sense to start Mike Cox and his $700,000 salary and go after re-signing Jason Snelling, who can also play running back, to be the fullback tandem.
OT Sam Baker
Cost to keep: $2.576 million
Cost to cut: $0
Cap Space Freed up if Cut: $2.576 million
Why it could make sense: Sam Baker has been arguably one of the worst NFL left tackles since earning the starting role in the middle of 2009. He has not been able to use his alligator arms to latch onto the defensive ends that are trying to get by him. This move just makes too much sense. Baker is giving zero production but his contract is that of a decent backup. He's not even worth a backup's contract.
Verdict: Cut. Don't look back. I'll buy his ticket back to Southern Cal if you need me to.
DT Jonathan Babineaux
Cost to keep: $4.686 million
Cost to cut: $1.172 million
Cap Space Freed up if Cut: $3.514 million
Why it could make sense: The Falcons could see Jonathan Babineaux as a fading player as he is now 30 years old. Babineaux is one of the longest tenured Atlanta Falcons, and his penetrating ability against both the run and the pass is the top on the team. The question here is whether Babineaux is worth cutting and taking the veteran leadership hit. It's definitely not worth the hit, and Babineaux will prove worthy of his contract in 2012.
K Matt Bryant
Cost to keep: $2.050 million
Cost to cut: $0
Cap Space Freed up if Cut: $2.050 million
Why it could make sense: Matt Bryant is now 36 years old and is only going to drop off in power. He is still one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL, though. It would be smart for Atlanta to attempt to find another Matt Bosher-type steal as far as kicking is concerned. However, this move would be very unlikely. Bryant is worth every penny as he has only missed five kicks in the past two years and 60 attempts.