NFC Notes: Falcons, Lions, Saints

     

Falcons

Falcons second-round DL Marlon Davidson has not been able to make much of an impact as a rookie in Atlanta despite a need for playmakers on defense. A knee injury and a stint on the COVID-19 list have slowed Davidson’s development, which already wasn’t helped by the pandemic restrictions this offseason. However, Falcons HC Raheem Morris says the team has big hopes for Davidson after the bye week, adding they expect to “see a brand new Marlon and see the Marlon that we’ve drafted” following some time off to reset. 

“I’m not going to risk Marlon’s future or an investment by the Atlanta Falcons putting him out there in a troublesome situation,” Morris said via Jason Butt of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We started off with this plan of him practicing a limited amount of reps in practice. You guys kind of saw that. Now, he’s gotten going. Last week was his first real week of getting a chance to get out there and get a full boatload of practice reps.”

Lions

  • The Athletic’s Chris Burke and Nick Baumgardner mention former Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff as a potential strong candidate for the Lions if they have a GM vacancy. 
  • The two also say the team is nearing an inflection point with QB Matthew Stafford, as he’ll need an extension sooner or later. He might still be the quarterback in 2021 but anything beyond that is murky. He’s under contract through 2022. 
  • Lions DC Cory Undlin took the blame for the Lions having just 10 players on the field on a long touchdown run Sunday, the third time it’s happened the past few weeks: “It’s embarrassing, is what it is. And I’ll say this: It’s just poor, poor coaching.” (Burke)

Saints

  • Over The Cap’s Jason Fitzgerald looks at how the Saints can get out the salary cap jam they find themselves in for 2021. New Orleans is currently projected to be around $95 million over the salary cap. 
  • Fitzgerald says regardless of whether QB Drew Brees retires, waffles on retirement or decides to play another season, the Saints should be able to get $22-$24 million in cap savings by either processing his retirement as a June 1 release or by extending his contract into 2022 and/or adding more void years to his deal. 
  • He adds no matter what the Saints will need to cut LB Kwon Alexander after this season, which will save $13.4 million. 
  • Fitzgerald highlights DE Cameron Jordan as the top candidate to restructure his deal to save up to $10.26 million, as he’s likely in the Saints plans for a while. A restructure would lock him in through 2022 when he’ll be 33, however, which presents some risk if his play falls off. 
  • Fitzgerald lists G Nick Easton, CB Janoris Jenkins and DT Malcom Brown as likely cap casualties to save a total of $18 million. 
  • The Saints could also look at cutting RB Latavius Murray and P Thomas Morstead for $2.5 million each in cap savings. While that number is minimal once you factor in signing replacements, a backup running back and punter are more of luxuries for New Orleans at this point. 
  • The Saints can also save money by extending RT Ryan Ramczyk even on a new deal worth $15 million per year, as it could be structured to lower the cap hit in 2021 on his fifth-year option by almost $6.5 million. 
  • New Orleans could take a similar tack with CB Marshon Lattimore, another 2017 first-round pick in the final year of his deal, but Fitzgerald points out Lattimore will be both a riskier and more expensive contract. An alternative would be adding four void years to Lattimore’s contract to lower his 2021 cap hit to just $2.84 million and provide $7.4 million in savings. 
  • If the Saints end up extending Lattimore, the prorated number will be relative peanuts. If they don’t, they take a $7.4 million dead money hit but it’s something they can worry about later when the cap presumably isn’t in as dire straits. 
  • At this point, the Saints are under the cap and have room to sign their rookie class if they followed through on cutting Murray and Morstead. Fitzgerald adds that depending on if Brees is back or not, the Saints could cut WR Emmanuel Sanders to save $4 million. 
  • For additional flexibility, the Saints could restructure WR Michael Thomas‘ contract for $8.7 million in savings. However, that essentially eliminates any possibility of trading him if the team isn’t sold on the relationship, as it makes his contract untradable until 2022 when he’ll be 29 and more difficult to move. 
  • New Orleans could also do something with LT Terron Armstead‘s contract, either as a restructure or extension, but that carries risk because Armstead has never played a complete 16-game season and missed significant chunks of three of the past four seasons. 
  • Fitzgerald also doesn’t think the Saints should do anything with G Andrus Peat‘s contract, as they should keep the option of cutting him in 2022 open when his guarantees run out. 
  • However, if the Saints did restructure Thomas, Armstead and Peat, that would push them from just under $13 million to $30 million under the cap. If the revenue outlook outperforms worst-case projections, the Saints could also add several million more on a higher 2021 cap. 
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