When reports surfaced that Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and wide receiver Julio Jones might act, they made sense at first glance. Why shouldn't the 1-6 Hawks consider trading veterans to start a rebuilding process? In this case, there is a big reason – their contracts.
The NFL's salary caps make trading the highly paid Ryan and Jones nearly impossible for the Hawks. Any trade in either game would require a series of follow-up actions to account for accelerated cap hits for Atlanta and large future cap hits for the acquiring team. The NFL trading deadline ends at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3rd. ET, and while you would never say that a struggling team never swaps big names, money probably makes it a little too heavy in this situation.
Below, we've detailed Ryan and Jones' contracts and the NFL rules that make it difficult to move.
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Matt Ryan contract details
- Years to go: 3 (2021-2023)
- Remaining total present value: $ 74,750,000
- Remaining total score: $ 119,187,500
- Average per year: $ 30 million (No. 10 quarterbacks)
After some restructuring, Ryan still has a strong contract. Thanks to some roster bonuses and cash shifts, Ryan has a cap hit average of nearly $ 40 million in the 2021, 2022, and 2023 seasons. While Ryan himself actually made some of that money through various guarantees, it is that maximum number that does most important to a team Ryan wants to acquire.
A team could save Ryan $ 15 million (on top of unpaid base salaries) if it releases him after the 2021 season, as Ryan has roster bonuses that are $ 7.5 million each at the start of the 2022 and 2023 league calendar be valid.
Julio Jones contract details
- Years to go: 3 (2021-2023)
- Remaining total present value: $ 38,326,000
- Remaining total score: $ 61,576,000
- Average per year: $ 22 million (# 2 among broadband receivers)
Thanks to the structuring of the bonuses in Jones' contract, he too will have a bigger cap hit than his cash receipts for each of the 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons. Only $ 2 million of Jones' base salary for 2022 is guaranteed for injuries, and his release before the 2023 season would leave $ 7.75 million in Dead Cap.
Why Matt Ryan and Julio Jones' contracts make them difficult to trade
If either Jones or Ryan is traded, any future prorated cash (from bonuses and the like) "accelerates" into a cap hit against that season's salary cap, according to Pro Football Talk. For cap purposes, trading with Ryan would accelerate $ 44.4 million to Atlanta's salary cap, and the Jones cap acceleration would be $ 23.25 million.
The Falcons currently have less than $ 2 million in cap space, making such massive cap accelerations likely a non-runner. Striking Jones and Ryan's base salaries off the books would not match the amount of cap acceleration Atlanta would face, especially since Ryan's restructured contract includes a base salary of just more than $ 1 million in 2020.
Additionally, the NFL's 2021 wage cap is much more likely to go down rather than go up, as a number of normal team cash flows are pandemically constrained. It could be as low as $ 175 million per PFT. A team playing Ryan would devote more than a fifth of their cap hit to a single player, while for Jones it would devote more than a tenth of their cap hit to a wideout.
Jones and Ryan could be obvious trade candidates due to Atlanta's record, but it's likely they'll stick with the Hawks to try and do better next year.