NFL teams received good news from the league office on Thursday when the NFL announced that the NFL salary cap will increase from $120.6 million in 2012 to $123.9 (with $900,000 minimum salary benefit) in 2013.
Now that the salary cap number has been set, NFL teams can begin to prepare their plans for free agency when the new NFL league year starts on March 12.
The Atlanta Falcons have 14 unrestricted free agents, including key starters like William Moore, Brent Grimes and Sam Baker. In addition, Tony Gonzalez will have to be re-signed if he decides to come back to Atlanta for another year.
Even though the Falcons have a little room under the $123.9 million dollar cap, they will still likely have to create some cap room by releasing Michael Turner or Dunta Robinson. Extending Matt Ryan's contract will also be a priority if they want to have enough space to comfortably retain their key free-agents, sign their draft picks and pursue a veteran free agent or two on the market.
With that understanding, let's take a look at the contracts the Falcons need to push for when they negotiate with the seven free agents that the team needs to retain if they want to return to the playoffs.
We will look at each player's most recent contract and base our projection for their future deal on the contract of a comparable NFL player who plays the same position.
UPDATE: D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Falcons will gain approximately $15.9 million dollars in salary cap space after releasing Michael Turner, John Abraham and Dunta Robinson.
All contract and salary cap data obtained via Spotrac.com.