London, UK – The inevitable has finally happened, after starting last season 1-7, and now this year 0-5, head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff are out in Atlanta as head coach and general manager, respectively of The Atlanta Falcons.
Looking in from the outside the franchise looks set up to be a playoff team but a closer inspection made beg to differ on that opinion. The Atlanta Falcon are not a sleeping giant; this organization has a history of making bad choices and handing out even worse contracts.
Established in 1966, the Atlanta Falcons, to date have lost a hundred more games that they have won. The team did not produce back to back winning seasons until 2009. Their list of failures reads like a Stephen King horror novel.
Peerless Price, Bobby Petrino, Ray Edwards, Jamal Anderson (the DE not the RB), Sam Baker, Ed Hartwell, Tyson Jackson, Dunta Robinson, Pierra Jerry, the debacle in London, Vic Beasley, 28-3, that week two loss in Dallas…….. Will it ever end?
The current roster has some failed experiments too, Isaiah Oliver, Deadrin Senat, Damontae Kazee, Takk McKinley, and James Carpenter. The time has also surely come for Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal as well.
As for Dan Quinn, billed as the great defensive mind, his legacy in Atlanta will simply be his defenses were at best, flawed and at worst, ie: now, absolutely awful. Coach Quinn fired two defensive coordinators. Richard Smith was followed out the door by Marquand Manuel,three if you include Quinn himself. But Quinn’s constant tampering on that side of the ball proved fatal.
The offensive side of the ball at least had some highs during Quinn and Dimitroff’s tenure mainly thanks to quarterback Matt Ryan and in 2016 Kyle Shanahan. When Kyle Shanahan departed for the 49ers the Falcons made the strange choice of Steve Sarkisian for Offensive Coordinator. After a disastrous first season (don’t mention the ‘jet sweep’), Sarkisian started to make significant strides in 2018. The powers that be decided to replace the Offensive Coordinator with a former failed head coach in Dirk Koetter, who runs a different scheme altogether, but asked him to run the same scheme input by Shanahan and was on the way to being mastered by Sarkisian. Answers on a postcard, please.
It is safe to put Dirk Koetter in the failed experiment bracket but for now, Koetter has survived the mini purge but surely, it’s just a question of when not if.
Make no mistake about it, Quinn made scapegoats out of Manuel and Sarkisian and by doing so made the team worse off.
So where do the Falcons go from here?
This is a question that will provide many more questions and as it stands very few answers. Let’s just say that the new general manager has some big decisions to make and almost all for the longer term.
According to the reliable Spotrac.com, the Falcons will start the next league year $27 Million OVER the cap using the current league cap figure of $195M. However, due to the COVID 19 pandemic and the obvious loss of revenue that goes with it, it is strongly believed that the cap figure will come down by $20M to a total of, $175M. All this means that Atlanta will start the year some $47M OVER the salary cap.
It certainly seems that Thomas Dimitroff was simply playing with house money, playing one season at a time with no thought to the overall future of the roster. The actions of a man on borrowed time but now it will be someone else’s problem to fix and some very tough choices need to be made.
So, how do you begin to solve this rather large conundrum?
You are $47M over the cap, you can’t re-sign any of your own free agents (all 22 of them) let alone sign anyone else’s and you have no money for your next draft class. In short, you need to save somewhere in the region of $70M to get it all done and still scrape by the skin of your teeth.
The combined cap hit for Matt Ryan ($40m) and Julio Jones ($24m) in 2021 will be $64M like I said tough choices. Financially this seems like the best place to start. But realistically, would Atlanta need a shot at drafting Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields in order to cut ties with Ryan? Perhaps another quarterback can emerge the way that Joe Burrow did last year.
Trading Julio Jones would not make the new regime immediately popular with the fanbase but getting a first-round pick and clearing a good chunk of cap space would be a very good start.
Who else is for the chop and what could it save?
Jake Matthews $20M
Ricardo Allen $8M
James Carpenter $6M
Deion Jones $12M
Allen Bailey $6M
Tyler Davidson $4.6M
Isaiah Oliver $1.5M
Deadrin Senat $1.5M
Cutting or trading all of the above done correctly could save $60M. Deion Jones will probably survive based on the makeup of his contract (the Falcons have a better potential out in 2022). Jones has declined in the last two years but can still turn himself around under new management. The best possible scenario for Jake Matthews at this point is a restructured contract that would cut that cap hit in half. I see no reason to keep anyone else on this list around.
What about the free agents?
Keanu Neal, Takk McKinley, and Damontae Kazee, Alex Mack, Todd Gurley, Brian Hill, and Younghoe Koo are the highest-profile players that are due to be unrestricted free agents. Mack’s replacement has already been drafted. McKinley’s option was not picked up and he is likely gone as is Neal. Gurley will be the most difficult decision to make both money and contract lengthwise assuming he wants to stay.
So who gets fix this mess?
The current front runners for the next general manager jobs:
Ed Dodds: Currently Colts Assistant GM
Mike Borgonzi: Currently Chiefs Director of Football operations
Louis Riddick: ESPN Analyst
The current front runners for the next head coaching jobs:
Eric Bieniemy: Chiefs OC
Robert Saleh: 49ers DC
Josh McDaniels: Patriots OC
Greg Roman: Ravens OC
Ryan Day: Ohio State HC
Dan Mullen: Florida HC
Don Martindale: Ravens DC
More to come on the coaching search soon…..
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