Thomas Dimitroff Says Falcons Aren't in 'Cap Hell' Entering 2020 NFL Free Agency

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2020

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff speaks during a press conference at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2020. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff disputed the notion his team is in salary-cap hell heading into the 2020 free-agent period, which kicks off March 18.

Dimitroff discussed the situation Friday during an appearance on WZGC Radio (via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

"Take this the right way," he said. "I was doing my own research on the definition of hell, and it's perpetual fire. We are not in an unending or perpetual fire (situation). We are in a situation, as I alluded to earlier, when you spend money on the people that you're spending money on, you're in a situation from year to year ... where every year is the same in the sense of we really look at our players."

The Falcons are projected to have just $4.3 million to spend when the new league year begins next week, per Spotrac. That's the third-lowest total in the NFL.

Dimitroff's comments allude to the large percentage of the cap being taken by quarterback Matt Ryan ($24.2 million) and wide receiver Julio Jones ($20.4 million). Those two stars account for more than 21 percent of Atlanta's cap space for next season.

Add in offensive tackle Jake Matthews ($16 million) and cornerback Desmond Trufant ($15.2 million) and over 37 percent of the cap is invested in four players.

"We look at where we are spending our money, and we try to decide how we are going to adjust," Dimitroff said on WZGC. "Sometimes, it takes more creativity in a year where you sign a lot of players to high contracts coming into a year verses another year when things are a little less active and it becomes a little easier to navigate."

Nevertheless, the Falcons have been forced to move on from a few key contributors because of the limited financial flexibility.

Tight end Austin Hooper, who's coming off a breakout 2019 season, and linebacker Vic Beasley, who registered 37.5 sacks across five years with the franchise, are both set to hit the open market.

"So, again, it will take creativity. In no way is it cap hell," Dimitroff said. "We are in a solid situation that is going to continue to get better as we make some tough decisions into this offseason."

The Falcons must also account for paying their seven picks in the 2020 draft, which leaves even less wiggle room, barring some players being released.

All told, Atlanta doesn't figure to become a significant player in the free-agent market as it looks to bounce back from a disappointing 7-9 campaign.