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2nd Qtr 7:45 1st & 10, Own 23

Flat salary cap presents challenges for NFL teams

INDIANAPOLIS -- Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the former director of college scouting for the Patriots, has always been one of the best interviews for the media. And since the Patriots aren’t talking at the NFL scouting combine to anyone but the team’s website, Dimitroff is as close to New England-think as we’re going to get.

One of his most interesting comments Friday was about how the flat cap will affect teams. Before the new CBA, the cap usually increased anywhere from $4-7 million on an annual basis. Before the lockout, the cap was $123 million. It won’t exceed that number until next year -- at the earliest.

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Dimitroff said the flat cap puts a premium on drafting well, and developing talent from within.

“We’ve all been thinking about that,” Dimitroff said. “The league, it seems as though it’s changing a little bit as far as the cap not going up and the insinuation that maybe some -- not all -- of the middle class will be potentially moved on from in certain organizations because they have to fit in those upper level guys with a lot of money that we’re dealing with. It means you have to be creative in how you put together your roster to make sure you can fit the guys in who may be a little bit younger in the game.

“It’s about developing talent. That is huge in this game today with the way it is right now with the cap, it is very, very important to make sure that you go in and your coaching staff is in line with your personnel staff and your general manager to make sure that we’re all about the development of our young guys, so that we have those young guys who are potentially going to be the next big-ticket guys but they’re still producing for you on a team while they’re in a lower category as far as earning money.”

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