I was looking over some of the bigger contracts that the team has under its belt, and I was thinking there could be a lot of veterans cut next year, unless they come through with solid years in 2005.
The ones that stood out most to me are Todd Weiner, Peerless Price, Warrick Dunn, Brady Smith, and Eric Beverly. Besides Price (29), all will be on the wrong side of 30 after this season, and all will be highly paid and in the eyes of some: overapaid.
Now these guys will be taking up about 20% of our total cap space in 2006. And cutting all of them would likely result in dead money of $10.3 million as well in 2006. But that likely frees up about $10.9 million in cap space.
The biggest gains come from Weiner and Dunn with $3 million and $3.4 million respectively. Price = $715,000 in savings, and Smith ($2.5 million) and Beverly ($1.3 million).
I think these cuts are all pretty likely at this point. Here's my analysis:
OT Todd Weiner - If Shaffer makes strides this upcoming season and improves as a starter plus the introduction of a solid rookie OT in the draft, it makes Weiner's presence on the roster less necessary. Shaffer can play either LT or RT and I think would be better on the right side anyway. Or the rookie can come in and move to RT. BUt either way, Weiner's best hope for keeping his job in 2006 is to have a solid year coupled with the fact that neither Shaffer nor the rookie make huge strides between now and January.
RB Warrick Dunn - we all know that Dunn is very valuable to this roster. But it's hard for the team to continue swallowing paying a part-time player nearly $5.6 million in 2006. Duckett is making strides, and if he continues to do so, it will be hard to justify paying Dunn, especially when you factor in the possibility of the Falcons adding a quality back in this year's draft.
WR Peerless Price - we all know Price has been a huge disappointment. We've heard the excuses: injuries, eye problems, etc. But now it is time to put up or shut up. Although the savings for Price are not huge, it is savings taking a $5.7 million dead money cap hit seems a better option than paying him his $6.4 million cap figure next year. The Falcons like Jenkins and if he continues to make strides and Price continues to not overwhelm, the Falcons have no choice but to release him.
DE Brady Smith - most agree that the team will spend an early pick upgrading the DE position. Smith is just a two-down player that doesn't bring a whole lot as a pass rusher. Mora & Co. want more speed up front, and this likely means Smith is outside looking in. However, with him on the bubble entering this year, Smith probably had a career year, so I won't doubt his ability to turn it up a notch. But then again, if he loses his job to a rookie at some point this year, it will be hard justify paying a backup $3.08 million in 2006.
TE Eric Beverly - he was brought in to be a LG, but moved to TE, and now will stay there. He helps a lot in the run game, but the team wants more from this position in the passing game. Beverly brings little if anything in that category. The team may draft a TE that fits that description better, and if so it's hard to see Beverly sticking around for the final year of his contract.
Because of these 5 players, I think the possibility of the Falcons drafting OT, WR, RB, DE, and TE in this draft are very strong. These are going to be some of the issues that Rich McKay has to think about when making decisions in the war room in less than 2.5 weeks from now.
A good GM sees the past, present, and future all at the same time, and weighs each one equally.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.