Regardless of whether teams are or aren’t wondering about the availability of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and/or receiver Julio Jones in trade, there should be no wondering about this: The cap consequences for trading either guy would be very significant.
For one of them, however, the a trade is considerably easier. (Or, perhaps more accurately, considerably less difficult.)
Let’s start with Ryan. Trading him would result in a 2021 cap charge of $44.4 million.
For Jones, the cap hit would be much more manageable, relative to Ryan. Still, the Falcons would have to absorb $23.25 million by trading Jones.
Dumping the balance of their 2020 salaries would help. The Falcons would clear $7.24 million in unpaid salary for Jones, dropping the net cap hit in 2021 to $16.01 million. For Ryan, a 2020 restructuring that reduced his salary to the veteran minimum of $1.05 million means they’d avoid only $679,000 by trading him now.
Throw in the fact that the salary cap possibly will be as low as $175 million next year, the Falcons would have a hard time burning that kind of cap space on guys they won’t have.
That said, because the trades would be happening after June 1, the cap charges would apply next year. Ryan’s cap number for 2021 already will be $40.9 million; thus, trading him would only increases the already expected cap charge by $3.5 million. (It’s still $44.4 million in dead money.)
Jones’ 2021 cap charge in 2021 will be $23.05 million. By trading him now and by not using the cap money realized by his unpaid salary, they could drop that by $7 million. Still, if would result in a $16.01 million dead-money charge.
Though it wouldn’t be easy, they could potentially trade one or the other. It would be very hard to trade both, since that would push the total dead money for not having two key players north of $60 million.
UPDATE 3:06 p.m. ET: In a prior version of this item, I overlooked the fact that post-June 1 trades don’t trigger cap accelerations until the following year. Which was stupid of me. Before the NFL made the post-June 1 cap rule for trades match the post-June 1 cap rule for cuts, the trades couldn’t have happened at all. Even with the cap acceleration landing next year, it won’t be easy to pull off a trade, especially as to Ryan.