They’ve since ramped up negotiations with safety William Moore and left tackle Sam Baker, while signing backup running back Antone Smith to a modest two-year, $1.425 million contract extension.
Smith received a $65,000 signing bonus and base salaries of $630,000 and $730,000. The Falcons would like to keep Moore and Baker from hitting the open market.
As of Thursday, the Falcons had $20.5 million under their adjusted cap of $124.3 million.
Gonzalez’s cap number last season was $5.9 million.
So if they give him a modest raise to come back and push his number up to $6.5 million, the Falcons would have $14 million left in salary-cap space.
Moore, who went to the Pro Bowl last season as an alternate, could demand a deal near the top of the safety market. The top safety salary belongs to San Diego’s Eric Weddle, whose deal last July averaged $8 million.
If the Falcons gave Moore a deal that averaged $8 million, they could lower his cap number by spreading out the signing bonus over the term of the contract.
Weddle received a $13 million signing bonus and had a cap number of $3.9 million last season.
If Moore’s cap number is $4 million, the Falcons would have $10 million left.
One of Baker’s comparables is New York Giants left tackle Will Beatty, who recently signed a five-year deal worth $37.5 million. His cap number for next season is $3.6 million.
So the Falcons would have roughly $6.4 million left in cap space for cornerback Brent Grimes, Ryan, the rookies and any veteran pickups.
That’s a tight spot, but manageable under the salary-cap rules.