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A View on How the Falcons Will Deal with the Salary Cap Issues in 2012

Football Outsiders is out and doing Division by Division looks at the salary cap and how it affects each team around the league.

To see about the entire NFC South – click HERE

Here’s the Falcons breakdown, and some of the background on how they think things will play out for the team.

Estimated Cap Space: $20-$25 million

Unrestricted Free Agents (17): John Abraham, Kroy Biermann, Kirk Chambers, Thomas DeCoud, Harry Douglas, Brent Grimes, Kelvin Hayden, Reggie Kelly, Curtis Lofton, Todd McClure, Mike Peterson, Chris Redman, Brett Romberg, James Sanders, Jason Snelling, Eric Weems, Joe Zelenka

Restricted Free Agents (1): Vance Walker

Walker has 32 tackles and a pair of sacks as a rotational tackle for the Falcons over the past three seasons. That role will likely continue, either with a one- or multi-year extension, or an original round tender worth $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary.

Franchise Tag Candidate: Cornerback Brent Grimes and middle linebacker Curtis Lofton are the Falcons’ top candidates for the franchise tender. Grimes had five interceptions and 23 passes defensed in a Pro Bowl season as an exclusive rights free agent in 2010. In 2011, he picked off just one pass as his season was shortened by injury on a restricted free agent tender. Lofton has led the Falcons in tackles in three of the last four seasons and using the franchise tag on him would cost $8.8 million in guaranteed base salary, nearly $2 million less than the cornerback tender of $10.4 million.

Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: Fullback Ovie Mughelli finished 2011 on injured reserve with a knee injury and is entering the final year of his contract. The 31-year-old is due $3 million in base salary, which would come off the team’s salary cap if he were released.

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