Falcons one of several teams linked to David Andrews

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Falcons fans just watched fan-favorite Alex Mack leave in free agency, signing with the San Francisco 49ers. Atlanta does have a contingency plan at center with Matt Hennessey, but it would behoove the offensive line if Terry Fontenot went out and upgraded. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Atlanta has been linked to free-agent center David Andrews.

Andrews spent the past six seasons with the New England Patriots, although he sat out the entire 2019 season after being sidelined because of blood clot issues. He returned to start all 12 games he played in 2020, giving him 69 starts in 72 games with New England.

The former Georgia Bulldog would be an immediate upgrade over Hennessey, but at what cost? The Falcons are just barely under the salary cap, which every team must be under by 4 PM ET today. With the recent acquisition of Lee Smith, Atlanta essentially allocated the savings from Tyeler Davison‘s pay cut to his salary. The Packers are in worse standing with the cap than the Falcons, but the Dolphins are in better standing. Terry Fontenot would be wise not to get into a bidding war.

According to PFF, Andrews posted a grade of 67.7 in 2020, good for 16th among centers — ranking in the top 16 the past three seasons he played. In 2018, the former undrafted free agent ranked as the eighth highest-graded center in football. He’s excellent in pass protection, ranking in the 87th percentile in pass-blocking grade since 2015. As a run-blocker, Andrews is underwhelming, which could be a concerning deficiency for Arthur Smith, who wants to run the ball first and foremost.

Andrews is incredibly athletic for a center, displaying quick feet to redirect defenders — able to pull with ease as he’s nimble in the open field. He also has great hand usage in pass protection; if defenders get free from him, Andrews is quick to re-engage. He would be an immediate captain on the team and fits the culture Fontenot and Smith are trying to build. PFF predicts Andrews to receive a three-year deal worth $6 million annually, while Spotrac predicts a similar deal but for $21.3 million over three years. I would be on board at that price point, but I assume he will warrant around $10 million per year, at which I wouldn’t be interested.

Photo: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire

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