The Falcons’ preparations for free agency are complicated by the issue of whether tight end Tony Gonzalez will return for his 17th season in the NFL.
Teams can start talking to player representatives Saturday, and free agency starts Tuesday.
After releasing veterans John Abraham, Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson, the Falcons stated that they cleared salary-cap room in order to re-sign their own players and leave open space for Gonzalez’s possible return.
They’ve since ramped up negotiations with safety William Moore and left tackle Sam Baker, while signing backup running back Antone Smith to a modest two-year, $1.425 million contract extension.
Smith received a $65,000 signing bonus and base salaries of $630,000 and $730,000. The Falcons would like to keep Moore and Baker from hitting the open market.
As of Thursday, the Falcons had $20.5 million under their adjusted cap of $124.3 million.
Gonzalez’s cap number last season was $5.9 million.
So if they give him a modest raise to come back and push his number up to $6.5 million, the Falcons would have $14 million left in salary-cap space.