Falcons’ payroll slash continues — Blalock, Douglas released

An old picture: coach Mike Smith and Harry Douglas are now out of work. Roddy White, left, is safe. (AP photo)

An old picture: coach Mike Smith and Harry Douglas are now out of work. Roddy White, left, is safe. (AP photo)

An old picture: coach Mike Smith and Harry Douglas are now out of work. Roddy White, left, is safe. (AP photo)

(Updated: 6 p.m.)

There’s going to be money for the Falcons to spend. But will they spend it wisely this time?

After announcing the release of wide receiver Harry Douglas earlier Friday, the team cut ties with guard Justin Blalock. Blalock has been the Falcons’ most solid and consistent offensive linemen over his eight seasons. But he struggled with back problems in 2o14 and, in the world of the NFL’s salary cap, became too expensive of a player to keep.

The release of Blalock, Douglas and running back Steven Jackson will create significant salary cap space for the Falcons and they were all players referenced in this column 10 days ago.

Consider the financial ramifications:

• Blalock, who had two years left on his contract, was due a base salary of $4.75 million next season and has a cap figure of $7.91 million (third highest on the team). The team will take a significant cap hit for his release because he received an $11 million signing bonus in 2011 that was prorated over the life of the contract.

Jackson, who was released late Thursday, was due a $3.75 million salary in 2015l. Jackson had a pro-rated signing bonus so it’s believed the team will carry a dead salary cap hit of $1,166.668.

• Douglas was schedule to make $3.5 million next season. His exit does not come as a surprise. It was suggested here, because that’s simply too much money for a team to commit to a No. 3 receiver (behind Julio Jones and Roddy White), especially when the team has so many other needs. I thought the Falcons might deal Douglas, perhaps for a low-round draft pick, but there apparently was no market, probably because of the contract.

With Blalock, Jackson and Douglas gone, that’s $12 million off next season’s payroll.

UPDATE: The Falcons announced they also have cut defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi, but not for cap reasons. His contract called for a $660,000 salary next season. So the four released players brings the 2015 payroll deduction to $12.66 million.

Also off the books because of expiring contracts: linebacker/end Kroy Biermann ($3.050 million), end Osi Umenyiora ($2.5 million base; $4.75 million cap hit), linebacker Sean Weatherspoon ($2.831,250 million salary; $4,132,500 cap hit) and running back Jacquizz Rodgers ($1.431 millon). Weatherspoon is expected to be re-signed at a lower salary.

The Falcons almost certainly will add another wide receiver to replace Douglas, but it will be either late in the draft or a budget-friendly free agent.

I expect the team to be pretty aggressive in free agency, but I don’t expect them to go after Greg Hardy (character problems) or Ndamukong Suh (he would eat up too much cap space with so many needs to fill). Projecting players is a problem right now because some potential free agents will be re-signed, but here are some potential targets I like:

• Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul: The New York Giants are still negotiating with him. As Ledbetter wrote last week, Pierre Paul has 42 sacks in his first five seasons and “

• End/outside linebacker Jerry Hughes: He had 20 sacks in the last two seasons in Buffalo after only five in three years in Indianapolis. Caveat: It helped having Mario Williams on the other side.

• Outside linebacker Jason Worilds: Pittsburgh is expected to let him hit free agency. He has 15½ sacks in the last two seasons, the most of any Steeler.

• Linebacker/end Brandon Graham: Might be one of those players ready to take next step. Has been solid in Philadelphia.

• Tight end Julius Thomas: There’s some debate as to how much Peyton Manning turned Thomas into a star but there’s no question he would be a significant upgrade for the Falcons, as evidenced by their one post-Tony Gonzalez season. He’d help significantly in the red zone.

Some recent ramblings from the digital jukebox
— AJC: Steven Jackson expected to be missing piece, but he wasn’t
— MyAJC: Can Kevin Seitzer avoid being Braves’ next scapegoat
— AJC: Freeman on ’14 roster: Heyward leading off not well-constructed lineup
— MyAJC: By any name, Braves need a different Upton
— AJC: How long should Braves give Upton to show improvement?
— MyAJC: Braves have issues but McDowell not one of them
— AJC: I still can’t talk to Roger McDowell without thinking of ‘The Second Spitter’
— AJC: Poll: Are expectations for Braves too low, high or about right?
— MyAJC: Will Gonzalez be given some latitude during Braves’ rebuilding?
— MyAJC: Falcons’ roster gutting could have big names
— AJC: Data show Falcons got least (10-22) from most ($279.3 million)
— MyAJC: Georgia shows why we still can’t assume success
— AJC: Are Hawks getting Ray Allen? Odds site makes them favorite
— MyAJC: Private agendas still at play in Hawks’ offices
— AJC: Tiger Woods seems in danger of missing Masters (again)
— AJC: Trade likely means Hawks are planning for something
— MyAJC: Kyle Shanahan, the coach’s son, has absorbed a lot of jabs
— AJC: Greg Hardy skates (and is he worth the risk for Falcons)?
— MyAJC: Hawks’ deadline move wouldn’t hurt chemistry
— AJC: Tech doing just fine, recruiting rankings notwithstanding
— MyAJC: Dan Quinn’s ascent to top job was years in making
— AJC: Forget trade talk — Dan Quinn wants Julio Jones on his team
— AJC: Falcons need players but Dan Quinn is a good start
— MyAJC: Tom Brady takes the air out of critics in Super Bowl

 

Reader Comments 0

142 comments
jchris57
jchris57

I thought Mike Smith got fired because he couldn't win with Mr. Blank's "talented roster"  the Falcons had 4 or 5 players who would start for other teams. That includes the kicker. 

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

I'm sure Thomas Dimitrov will spend this Money wisely! He always has in the past.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Harry Douglas is a huge mistake! He's the only receiver they had that would pick up some yards after the catch from running the ball. He also had better hands than Roddy or Julio.

SaulK
SaulK

with all the dead wood on this team, quinn needs to clean house

BooBooBear
BooBooBear

Or ... they could fill all the opening with trash heap - last chance players and let Arthur Blank keep the $10 million as a party fund for he and his squeeze on cold November-December nights.  Or, he could use some of the cash to buy up the empty seats at the dome and give them to the Atlanta YMCA, so someone will be there for them to play the fake crowd noise extra loud.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Please cut Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes that should not hurt the cap too much

Wilbo
Wilbo

Will they spend it wisely this time?


Probably not.


FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@Wilbo 


They have made FA blunders well before TD two memorable bonehead signs were Edgarton Hartwell and Peerless Price


That was under Mc Kay or could Blank be a quieter  version of Jerry Jones?


He does not seem to be that popular with his peers and Goddell the way that some owners like Robert Kraft are the league does not like us


Like not giving us another SB and making a bigger thing out of noise gate you tell me that Seattle and Indy don't do the same thing

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Jake Matthews will have to step it up next yr the free pass period is over its time for him to justify where he was picked


He was not that good -- and he got a pass for it in part due to injury


Pls Jake do not be another Sam Baker

Carl Elias
Carl Elias

@FireJohnCoppy

Too late, Matthews was over rated due to his family name, the Falcons could have traded down and drafted Taylor Lewan or Juwan James both rookie OTs that had much better seasons than Matthews did.

How many times did you see DEs, pushing Matthews back into the QBs lap last season, too many times for me to count, the guy was on roller-skates last season.

Injuries are no excuse, everyone in the NFL plays injured & with pain after week 3 or 4.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@Carl Elias


I am glad that there is someone else observing the games and seeing the game as I was seeing it


He might get better but it better be sooner than later


Football Focus rated him as poor -- I thought he would be average but then again he did get schooled a lot in his rookie yr and this media has given him a free pass


The family name means nothing to me -- if one is born in a NASCAR garage that does not make him a race car. 

doolie1
doolie1

@FireJohnCoppy  agreed!!! but its rare for first year O Linemen(especially playing left tackle after going through training camp on the right side) to excel on as a LT especially when injured. Id give him more time, but the Falcons need to really reload the Oline if they are serious about running the ball.! 

atlppal
atlppal

@dirtyb8 Clearly, there should be an ajc clause that prevent comments from clowns like you!! How many snaps have you taken??? Players are not responsible if they sustain injuries!!

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

@atlppal First I would suggest you get a better grasp of your grammatical skills. Additionally, can't you  go troll your crippled team's blog at NOLA?

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

There should be some kind of clause in the contracts of players' which states that if you perform below the level expected or you are injured more than half the time, you could be cut without owing any money. Perfect example is Sam Baker. Imagine how much money he blatantly stole from this organization without contributing anything. I mean how is he any different than a petty thief or a criminal robber? Its only right to hold these athletes at the same level that we hold our any regular citizens. You don't get a paycheck for sitting on your a$$ all day doing nothing. Sam Baker is a first class crook and he should be arrested and jailed for it.

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

@SeanLB Good point. But I would still argue that he was at best mediocre even before he got injured. If he is given that kind of guaranteed contract, there is a certain level of expectations from him. So far, he hasn't been close to meeting any of those expectations even when he was healthy and being injured obviously didn't help the matter either.

SeanLB
SeanLB

@Dirtyb8 The argument against that, however, is that they were injured "on the job".  It's the employers responsibility to take care of the injury and any expenses with it (salary, etc.).  

doolie1
doolie1

@FireJohnCoppy @Dirtyb8  Id cut Baker, Lazy Lamar, soft Konz and glass Johnson...Regardless of the hit, time to develop players that can actually play in the NFL. If we depend on any of those and waste training camp on them, its just that more difficult when they get hurt and fail to replace them!

atlppal
atlppal

Keep dreaming FALCANTS!!! Keep Dreaming!!

Dirtyb8
Dirtyb8

@atlppal Keep dreaming for your welfare check at the swamp city at New Orleans. 

notPlanB
notPlanB

Surely we have learned to not go after high sack number players that play with extremely good pass rushers on the same line such as Ray Edwards. He had good sack numbers in Minn but due to Jared Allen and The Williams' taking on double teams.

he_of_stinky_wind
he_of_stinky_wind

Maybe Douglas will explain why falled down when Ryan threw him what should have been the TD that put the Falcons in da supa bowl.  He stumbled like me.  But my thighs are so big I can't run.  What is his excuse?

MtnFalcon
MtnFalcon

Julius Thomas will cost too much. Like Gronk and Graham money.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@MtnFalcon 


They have to spend it on somebody -- I'd prefer it be on the line and defense


We do not need to overpay for average players like was done with Tyson Jackson, Paul Solei and Jon Asomough. 


Either spend it on difference makers so save your money. 


I can't wait till the day they can cut Sam " the faker" Baker people complain about Ryan's deal but at least we get something our of him when he gets some reasonable help


He is a good QB


Baker is either injured or ineffective -- most overpaid Falcon ever

notPlanB
notPlanB

@MtnFalcon  Graham was a basketball player predominantly that had to learn football. That's what we need to look for but through the draft.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

We need Suh and two other impact players somewhere


Witherspoon can help if healthy


Sam Baker has a worse contract than Matt Ryan and we prolly cannot cut him

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

Why not cut Lamar Holmes, Peter Konz and Sam Baker too all are useless

peanutgallery
peanutgallery

I love how people either propose ridiculous trades "I'll trade you my broken-down WR for a 1st round pick! How about Matt Ryan for all the studs on your defense!" or want to sign every big-name free agent  on the market "I want Suh, Dez, and DeMarco! Heck just sign them all!"


FYI teams are not going to trade away their best young players for junk. There is something called a salary cap in the NFL.

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@peanutgallery 


IF they do not get a couple of studs on D than why not hang on to their FA money cause we do not need anymore Tyson Jackson kind of guys


I get it that the trade proposals are ridiculous.  It might be in their best interest to trade down a bit and do better with the picks they have -- we will see but they have to draft better that is a given

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@notPlanB 


It might be Pioli having the most say but we really do not know


Hey I was all for the removal of TD even over Coach Smith -- not saying that Smith was perfect and did not make mistakes but he got a flawed roster the last 2 yrs

ImaNitwit
ImaNitwit

Brandon Graham has not been solid in Philadelphia. He has been a flop as a #1 pick, occasionally having a decent game. Makes one wonder about the credibility of the entire article. 

anothercomment
anothercomment

The problem began and ends with Matt Ryan's elite level 100 m contract and almost $20million a year cap hit. He is barely the 10 th top quarter back in the league out of 26 teams. That means he does not make the top 10. He is not Elite, has never been and never will be. Look at how poor they have been in the Red zone. What QB couldn't be in the top 10 having had Tony Gonzalez for 4 years, Roddy White, Julio Jones, and then Having Harry Douglas who would be a number 1 or 2 on many teams. The team fell apart when veterans were cut to make cap space for Ryan's contract.

Ryan's contract must be cut to the $10-15 million range Max or make a trade to Buffalo for Him with Jackson and Solai for the 3 Pro bowl defensive linemen Buffalo has. We have two quarterbacks TJ and the other quarterback that can fight it out for starting. Cut Levine, go after Owen Daniels, wait for next years tight end draft. go after A. cooper with # 8. Get another offensive player line player in the draft. get a 6' plus running back.

The key is putting selfish Matt Ryan in His Place. he and his wife do no Charity work. Harry Douglas and his brother were the ones throwing the charity dinner at the women's homeless shelter, Big Mistake getting rid of Harry. arthur you lost the guy who did the Mitzvahs.

Peachtree Bart
Peachtree Bart

@anothercomment Silly comment.  It lacks cogency and organization, not to mention football sense.  Ryan isn't perfect, but he's a top-ten quarterback.  He'd be in the top five if he had a decent offensive line.  Top QB's are more instrumental to winning consistently than top pass rushers.  They're also harder to find.  And you have no idea how much Ryan donates to charity.  Humble people keep that private.  You sound like a real schnorrer.      

Da_Mick
Da_Mick

@PeachtreeBart @anothercomment I don't know what the charity angles has to do with the rest of this conversation, but I do think a "top ten quarterback" can consistently throw for more than ten yards at a time.  Ryan either cannot or does not very consistently.  I think another comment has a pretty valid point about the question as to why he's not able to do more in the passing game with the elite receivers we have, and this is even when he does have time to throw.  Are you telling me that these receivers are almost never open up the field?  He hits the relief receiver more than any quarterback I've seen,

notPlanB
notPlanB

@FireJohnCoppy @anothercomment  Where do you get your info. Sean Renfree threw to Connor Vernon at Duke who had the most career receiving yards in the ACC. T J Yates is just average but no team can pay for two starting QB's.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@anothercomment: "He is barely the 10 th top quarter back in the league out of 26 teams."

_____________________

When did the 32-team NFL get rid of six teams?

[Crickets]

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@notPlanB 


I don't care what Sean Renfree did in the ACC -- TJ Yates might be ok as a stopgap but he is no starting QB


Ryan is good -- at least in the top 12 of starting QB's if not top 10


Without Ryan and Julio we would be a 3 win team if lucky

HonestInformed
HonestInformed

@anothercomment  Absolute MORON!  Matt Ryan winning percentage for 1st 5 seasons compares well with (better than many) ALL the great QBs AND his career QB rating is very solid....................consider the FACT that he has never had a decent OL (32nd and then 31st the past two seasons) and that he has played on a team with the 32nd ranked D the past two seasons and his accomplishments are freak'n stellar.


ALL and I do mean ALL of the other Top 10 QB in the NFL have stellar to solid OL players to give them time and protection!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


IF you do not think Matt Ryan is solid; I challenge you to do some real in-depth research and compare his winning percentages, stats, 4th quarter comebacks, OL rankings, Defense rankings against the other Top 10 QBs.........if you do not change your opinion I would say you are completely blinded by bias or simply a dumb arse. 

FreeAgentFan
FreeAgentFan

@HonestInformed 


Ryan's lines were average in his first 5 yrs but these last 2 yrs the OL has been wretched. 


And he did well behind an average line & he is no slouch even behind the softies who are playing in front of him now


That Peter Konz pick is one of the worst and Lamar Holmes while not a real high pick is not good enough for this league


Got to do better and if they went OL in this draft I would not kick and scream -- trade down and draft smart.