2023 NFL Free Agency: Falcons Biggest Decision To Make

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The Falcons don’t have many pressing free-agent needs. Atlanta’s roster has been comprised mostly of veterans on one-year deals and rookie contracts. There has been a ton of attrition since the new regime took over, but that’s what was expected as they gutted the roster, headed toward greener salary cap pastures. However, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith will have to make a big decision on Kaleb McGay.

The Falcons don’t have an obvious replacement under contract, and there aren’t many inspiring options on the open market. Orlando Brown is the best tackle set to hit free agency, but he plays on the left side and will never come to Atlanta to play on the right side. Some consider Mike McGlinchey as the top right tackle expected to hit the free agent market. 

The former top-10 pick certainly hasn’t lived up to his lofty draft status. Despite not living up to that billing, he’s turned into a quality right tackle. He’s dealt with several minor injuries over the years, but a torn quadriceps in 2021 was the most serious. Overall, he’s done well to avoid missing major time.

He thrives in Kyle Shanahan’s wide-zone rushing attack. His pass protection leaves some to be desired, but he is a mauler in the run game — sound familiar? Kaleb McGary and McGlinchey had similar 2022 campaigns, but the Notre Dame product has undoubtedly been more consistent. That’s not to say they continue that trajectory.

Either way, the Falcons have a big decision. McGary was one of the best run-blocking tackles in football this past year, but his pass protection could still be improved, just like McGlinchey. After a career-best season protecting the quarterback, can the Falcons rely on the Washington product to continue to develop his pass sets?

The Falcons could see McGlinchey as a more reliable option or search for McGary’s replacement in April’s draft. Broderick Jones and Paris Johnson are potential options. The club could always just re-sign the former first-round pick; it’ll be one of the biggest decisions of the Falcons’ offseason, which The 33rd Team’s Ari Meiro has highlighted.

McGary is the third player on this list who had his fifth-year option declined last offseason only to come back and have a career year. His 91.6 PFF run-blocking grade ranked second among all tackles, and he showed significant improvement in pass protection, allowing only 19 pressures after giving up 120 in his first three years combined

It’s an impactful decision because it’s a premium position, and the Falcons don’t have any replacements waiting in the wings. We’ll see what the team decides to do.

Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire

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