Dec 1, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Darius Johnson (13) runs after a catch as Buffalo Bills free safety Jairus Byrd (31) defends during the second half at the Rogers Center. Falcons beat the Bills 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

$26.7 million to spend on Atlanta Falcons 2014 free agent targets

According to D. Orlando Ledbetter, of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Atlanta Falcons will be $26.7 million under budget for next season once Tony Gonzalez‘s $7 million slot is removed. With all of this money, Thomas Dimitroff should have a lot of flexibility in landing some of the team’s 2014 free agent targets.

However, that number could change if Dimitroff wanted to work with some contracts or release/extend some of the team’s veteran players. Here are some of the things Ledbetter said could be possibilities in working with the budget:

The Falcons can also renegotiate some contracts to create additional room. For instance, wide receiver Roddy White’s salary-cap number of $6.3 million and left guard Justin Blalock’s salary-cap number of $7.6 million could be reduced with a two- or three-year extension.

The Falcons, who have elected not to use the franchise or transition tag this offseason, have entered into contract talks with defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, defensive tackle Corey Peters and center/guard Joe Hawley.

The Falcons’ list of potential unrestricted free agents include Babineaux, Hawley, Peters, defensive tackle Peria Jerry, offensive Mike Johnson, Sean Locklear and Jeremy Trueblood, tight end Chase Coffman, cornerback Dominique Franks and linebacker Omar Gaither.

Ledbetter also listed five possible free agent targets that the Falcons could go after with some of the cap space they have:

  1. Jairius Byrd, safety
  2. Michael Johnson, defensive end
  3. Michael Bennett, defensive end
  4. Branden Albert, offensive tackle
  5. Randy Starts, defensive tackle

Jairius Byrd is considered to be the best free agent this offseason, so landing him would obviously be a huge deal, especially given the age that Atlanta is starting to see at the position. However, he’s going to be expensive and I’d argue that the Falcons have bigger needs elsewhere on defense and both lines.

This year’s free agent class is fairly deep at defensive end, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if the Falcons were to address that position here instead of the NFL Draft. A guy that I like just as much as the other two ends on Ledbetter’s list is Lamarr Houston, who’s a much smaller name. Most people expect big things from him, and he should also be cheaper than both of the Michaels listed above.

Let us know where you think the Falcons should spend their money during free agency:

Where should the Falcons spend their money?

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