NFL Football

Falcons add salary cap space by tweaking Ryan's contract

(AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio, File)

By CHARLES ODUM

AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Falcons lack the financial flexibility to be big spenders in free agency even after clearing salary cap room by restructuring quarterback Matt Ryan's contract.

The Falcons on Tuesday confirmed that $8.75 million of Ryan's 2019 base salary will be paid as a signing bonus. The move creates $7 million in cap space, more than doubling the team's available funds for free agency and the NFL draft.

Teams can begin signing free agents on Wednesday at 4 p.m. EDT.

Ryan signed a five-year, $150 million extension in 2018.

The tweak to Ryan's contract leaves Atlanta with approximately $13.5 million in cap space. The Falcons still rank only 27th in the NFL in available cap room, according to Spotrac.

The adjustment to Ryan's contract was first reported by ESPN.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff could clear more cap space if he's able to negotiate a new long-term deal for wide receiver Julio Jones or sign defensive tackle Grady Jarrett to a new contract.

When Atlanta placed a $15.209 million franchise tag on Jarrett on March 4, Dimitroff said he still hoped to negotiate a long-term contract with the defensive tackle.

The Falcons can negotiate with Jarrett until July 15. Jarrett, 25, had 52 tackles and set career highs with six sacks and three forced fumbles as the leader of Atlanta's defensive front in 2018.

By cutting cornerback Robert Alford, kicker Matt Bryant and defensive end Brooks Reed , the Falcons gained the approximate savings needed to pay Jarrett's franchise tag.

Ryan, Jarrett, Jones, cornerback Desmond Trufant, offensive tackle Jake Matthews and defensive end Vic Beasley all have cap figures of more than $11 million in 2019.

Dimitroff said at last month's NFL combine he believes the team's highest-paid players deserve the salaries but acknowledged the top-heavy payroll can be challenging.

"We have a group that we think deserves it and we know we've put ourselves on the line putting those types of players on our roster," Dimitroff said, adding the Falcons "have some expensive people that we need to continue to look at, make sure they're producing, which we feel they are, and make sure we build around them strategically so that we can continue to put together a team that we think and feel will be thriving in the NFL."

The Falcons finished 7-9 in their disappointing 2018 season, only two years after their Super Bowl loss to New England. The losing season increases the pressure on Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn in 2019.

Ryan, 33, posted numbers last season that compared with his 2016 MVP season. He passed for 4,924 yards with 35 touchdowns and only seven interceptions.

Ryan was Dimitroff's first draft pick as Atlanta's new general manager in 2008.

"Going back to when I first got this job in 2008, it was so important for us to have that quarterback in place, as we know," Dimitroff said. "... To have Matt here has been great for us and we'll continue to grow and build around him."

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Updated March 12, 2019

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Teams Score Time
NCAA FB
Appalachian State 34 F
North Carolina 31
Ball State 23 F
NC State 34
NFL
Carolina   4:05pm
Arizona  
NHL
Carolina 2 F
Washington 3
Teams Score Time
Boston College 30 F
Rutgers 16
California 28 F
Ole Miss 20
Elon 7 F
Wake Forest 49
LSU 66 F
Vanderbilt 38
Michigan 14 F
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Tennessee 3 F
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Western Michigan 33 F
Syracuse 52
Appalachian State 34 F
North Carolina 31
Auburn 28 F
Texas A&M 20
Louisville 24 F
Florida State 35
Miami (OH) 5 F
Ohio State 76
SMU 41 F
TCU 38
UCF 34 F
Pittsburgh 35
Washington 45 F
BYU 19
Central Michigan 12 F
Miami 17
Ball State 23 F
NC State 34
Old Dominion 17 F
Virginia 28
Oregon 21 F
Stanford 6
Charlotte 10 F
Clemson 52
Oklahoma State 30 F
Texas 36
Notre Dame 17 F
Georgia 23
Colorado 34 F
Arizona State 31
UCLA 67 F
Washington State 63
Teams Score Time
Interleague
Philadelphia 9 F
Cleveland 4
Philadelphia   6:37pm
Cleveland  
American League
Toronto 2 F
New York 7
Boston 4 F
Tampa Bay 5
Chicago 5 F
Detroit 3
Seattle 7 F
Baltimore 6
Kansas City 12 F
Minnesota 5
Los Angeles 8 F
Houston 4
Texas 3 F
Oakland 12
Seattle   1:05pm
Baltimore  
Toronto   1:05pm
New York  
Boston   1:10pm
Tampa Bay  
Chicago   1:10pm
Detroit  
Kansas City   2:10pm
Minnesota  
Los Angeles   2:10pm
Houston  
Texas   4:07pm
Oakland  
National League
St. Louis 9 F
Chicago 8
New York 2 F
Cincinnati 3
Washington 10 F
Miami 4
Pittsburgh 1 F
Milwaukee 10
San Francisco 1 F
Atlanta 8
Arizona 4 F
San Diego 2
Colorado 4 F
Los Angeles 2
New York   1:10pm
Cincinnati  
Washington   1:10pm
Miami  
San Francisco   1:20pm
Atlanta  
Pittsburgh   2:10pm
Milwaukee  
St. Louis   2:20pm
Chicago  
Arizona   4:10pm
San Diego  
Colorado   4:10pm
Los Angeles  
Teams Score Time
Atlanta   1:00pm
Indianapolis  
Baltimore   1:00pm
Kansas City  
Cincinnati   1:00pm
Buffalo  
Denver   1:00pm
Green Bay  
Detroit   1:00pm
Philadelphia  
Miami   1:00pm
Dallas  
New York   1:00pm
New England  
Oakland   1:00pm
Minnesota  
Carolina   4:05pm
Arizona  
New York   4:05pm
Tampa Bay  
Houston   4:25pm
Los Angeles  
New Orleans   4:25pm
Seattle  
Pittsburgh   4:25pm
San Francisco  
Los Angeles   8:20pm
Cleveland  
Chicago   Mon 8:15pm
Washington  
Teams Score Time
Pittsburgh 1 F
Columbus 3
Colorado 3 F
Minnesota 4
Carolina 2 F
Washington 3
New York 3 F
New Jersey 4
New York 1 F
Philadelphia 4
Toronto 3 F
Buffalo 5
Montreal 4 F
Ottawa 0
Florida 6 F
Dallas 0
Tampa Bay 4 F/OT
Nashville 5
Vegas 3 F
San Jose 1
Boston 2 F/OT
Chicago 3
Anaheim 3 F/SO
Arizona 4
Vancouver 5 F
Los Angeles 7
Columbus   3:30pm
St. Louis  
Pittsburgh   5:00pm
Detroit  
Minnesota   7:00pm
Colorado  
Calgary   8:00pm
Winnipeg  
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT RICHMOND
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 19 Martin Truex Jr 8
2 18 Kyle Busch 4
3 11 Denny Hamlin 6
4 2 Brad Keselowski 1
5 6 Ryan Newman 19
6 42 Kyle Larson 13
7 4 Kevin Harvick 2
8 14 Clint Bowyer 5
9 41 Daniel Suarez 14
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT RICHMOND
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 20 Christopher Bell 4
2 22 Austin Cindric 1
3 00 Cole Custer 12
4 7 Justin Allgaier 2
5 98 Chase Briscoe 5
6 18 Harrison Burton 6
7 9 Noah Gragson 8
8 8 Zane Smith 15
9 1 Michael Annett 10
NASCAR GANDER OUTDOORS TRUCK SERIES AT LAS VEGAS
Pos # Name Start Pos
1 16 Austin Hill 7
2 45 Ross Chastain 2
3 51 Christian Eckes 1
4 2 Sheldon Creed 6
5 4 Todd Gilliland 3
6 30 Brennan Poole 18
7 24 Brett Moffitt 4
8 99 Ben Rhodes 13
9 18 Harrison Burton 9