The Falcons dropped a pair of veteran defenders last week in order to improve their cap situation heading into free agency, moves that left another older defensive player contemplating his future with the franchise.
Defensive end Osi Umenyiora is due to count $4.75 million agains the cap in 2014 and the team could save $3.5 million by cutting Umenyiora loose before paying him a $1 million roster bonus in mid-March. Umenyiora, who led the team with 7.5 sacks in 2013, told Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com that he’s open to the realities of the business side of football, but that he thinks he’ll remain in Atlanta for another year.
“To say that money is not a lot would be crazy because that’s a lot of money, period,” Umenyiora said. “But if you look at it strictly in football terms and what the top-tier defensive ends are getting paid. … Mario Williams, who is making like, what, $16 million per year? It’s tough for me to answer that [money] question because it all depends on what my perceived value to the team is.”
Umenyiora referred a question regarding the possibility of a pay cut to his agent and said he was fine with any role that the Falcons had in mind for him next season. Umenyiora moved into a situational pass rushing role as last season unfolded with the team giving more snaps to younger players once the season went pear-shaped on them.
The Falcons are expected to try to upgrade their pass rush through the draft and/or free agency this offseason and Umenyiora would be a helpful piece to go with any addition as long as Atlanta can make it all work financially.