The Atlanta Falcons are going to be right up against the salary cap before they can achieve their goal of luring back veteran tight end Tony Gonzalez with a new contract.
They have other key decisions to make as well after falling just short of the Super Bowl and as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, that could mean some big-name players get released.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has done a solid job building the club through the draft and there are some holes that need to be filled. As Ledbetter points out, running back Michael Turner is scheduled to earn a base salary of $6.9 million in 2013, money he might not see. The Falcons could look to restructure his deal or release him and look for a replacement via the draft. Atlanta began reshaping the backfield last offseason when Pro Bowl fullback Ovie Mughelli was released and replaced by draft pick Bradie Ewing.
Ledbetter speculates defensive end John Abraham, due to earn $4.25 million, could potentially be cut loose. The thing is, the Falcons need pass rushers with Abraham on the roster. Without him, it will be an even greater need.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune