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How the Falcons can fix their offensive line while staying under salary cap

A few more cuts and restructures will need happen to help the Falcons with the salary cap.

ATLANTA — The Atlanta Falcons cut veteran offensive guard James Carpenter, a move that saved the team almost $4 million from the 2021 salary cap.

The team already cleared almost $11 million in cap space by releasing two veterans, safety Ricardo Allen and defensive end Allen Bailey. More cuts are expected.

Carpenter, who signed with Atlanta as a free agent in 2019, started a combined 24 games the last two seasons, including 13 at left guard in 2020. The 31-year-old Carpenter was a first-round selection by Seattle in the 2011 draft.  

Aaron Freeman, host of the Locked On Falcons podcast, talked about what the Falcons are aiming to do with this move.

Credit: AP
Atlanta Falcons offensive guard James Carpenter (77) runs out of the tunnel before an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, in Atlanta. The Atlanta Falcons won 43-6. (AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

“The Falcons are going to get $4 million in cap savings immediately,” said Freeman.

Freeman said a few more cuts and  restructures will need happen to help the Falcons with the salary cap.

He also offered an opinion on what the Falcons should do to replace Carpenter.

Several sports outlets are reporting that ex-Chicago Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long announced that he in unretiring from football on Tuesday.

“As far as a veteran stop gap that you could plug into Carpenter’s vacancy at the guard position up front, I think Long would make some sense,” explained Freeman. 

“If you could sign him to a one-year deal that has some incentives. Even though he’s older, I still think he is well versed in the blocking scheme. From what I’ve seen, the Bears are the only team to run outside zone more than the Tennessee Titans did. He played exclusively on the right side in Chicago, but I don’t think making the move to the left side would be too difficult for him," Freeman added.

Listen to the podcast below. 

Locked On is a podcast network for local sports that produces daily podcasts about major professional sports leagues, as well as some college sports programs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.