The Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan took up 18.43 percent of the salary-cap space. The Falcons went from 4-12 the year Ryan signed a deal worth $20.75 million per year (when the cap was $123 million) to 11-5 this past season. Why? A new coach and improved talent acquired through the draft and free agency.
How many spots up for grabs? A quick mid-February look down the final 2016 53-man roster shows about 20 players who may not be on the roster for Week 1 this year. This includes players who may depart as free agents and others who just won’t make the team. They probably won’t turn over that many spots but it does show that a lot of jobs are up for grabs.
Again, a good season but not good enough that a team that has deep playoff aspirations should give him the job with no competition. There should be a vigorous battle for the job this year. Jones will still be around and maybe he will pull a Trent Murphy and suddenly become productive in Year 3. We haven’t seen a whole lot of Mack Brown but I’ve seen enough to want to see more. With nine draft picks, it would not be surprising to see Scot McCloughan grab a running back somewhere along the line. I’m not sure if Keith Marshall, last year’s seventh-round pick, can stay healthy but if he can they should line him up and see what he can do.
Dustin Hopkins missed a couple of important kicks in 2016, especially after a very strong start to the year, but with a powerful leg and a sharp mindset he should absolutely be the 'Skins kicker in 2017. In two seasons with Washington, Hopkins has made 84 percent of his field goals and 95 percent of his extra points. Don't forget he routinely puts kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks too.