With the news that Joe Thuney is hitting the open market, Atlanta could use a large portion of their cap space to give themselves one of the best young guard tandems in the entire NFL.
Patriots are not expected to use their franchise tag on OG Joe Thuney as they did last year, per sources. Thuney likely headed to the free-agent market.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2021
If you're an NFL team looking for an offensive lineman in free agency, here's what Joe Thuney offers: he's 28, been an All-Pro guard who has also started games at center and played offensive tackle too.
He's been called for 3 total penalties over the past two seasons. Standout.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 9, 2021
Atlanta can drum up around $30 million in cap space with a few extra cuts and by restructuring their top six contracts, which I think is certainly possible. It’s not clear what the salary cap will be, but the higher the better for the Falcons. As of now, Over the Cap projects it to be around $183 million, but I think it could be north of that and potentially top $190 million.
There are a lot of quality low-cost options available in free agency, especially on the interior offensive line. However, most of those are lottery tickets that could easily flop. Atlanta has many needs to fill, but would it be wise to go all-in on one of the top guards in the league and patch up a hole that has plagued the Falcons for the past three seasons?
In my opinion, yes. PFF projects Thuney will receive a four-year, $57 million contract. That is a LOT of money, clocking in at an AAV of $14.25 million, which would likely make him the second-highest paid guard in the entire NFL. However, you would also give Chris Lindstrom a running mate that would suddenly transform the interior of the Falcons offensive line.
As talented and as young as Thuney is, his consistency is even more impressive. If you want to get a true wall up front, adding him and signing a low-cost but effective center like Austin Blythe, Austin Reiter, or even Alex Mack would finally give Matt Ryan some protection up the middle and open up holes for the run game. With a team that has a Super Bowl window that’s closing fast, it could be a worthwhile investment.
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