According to our friends at Pro Football Weekly, the Falcons are very comfortable with Sam Baker at Left Tackle going forward. In an interview with PFW, Head Coach Mike Smith was quoted as saying that the Falcons look forward to having Sam back, and that he has fought through a bunch of injuries in the last few years. The report continues, as PFW says that although the Falcons LT position may not undergo significant and major overhaul in the off-season, it says that there will undoubtedly be changes along the line. According to the report ‘The Pass protection for Matt Ryan was inconsistent’.
Here is where I have a big problem with what this report said. As a Falcons fan, I have watched Sam Baker play the Left Tackle position since 2008, and do a completely underwhelming job the whole time. Sometimes he has even been horrible. I just have no idea why the Falcons seem so intent on bringing him back. He is under contract for the 2012 season, but is he worth it? Is it worth paying him almost $2 million next season, or would it be better to cut him? Mike Smith has been very loyal throughout his time here in Atlanta; loyal to a fault I would say at times. If the Falcons can definitely sign a player like Demetrius Bell or Marcus McNeill, would they not almost certainly be better options, even if they are injury risks? It is possible that Pat Hill (our new offensive line coach) will be able to whip this line into shape, but I think it would be best if we cut ties with Baker, and signed the best LT on the free agent market.
The second part of the report is what I find the most surprising. It says that the Falcons might look to change things up at other spots along the offensive line. It would be fantastic to sign Carl Nicks away from New Orleans, and without bringing in a new LT, we would certainly be able to afford that. But short of that, there are not many options for a new Center or Right Guard. Without a 1st round pick, any player we would draft at those two positions would be developmental players, an their impact would only be felt a year or more down the road. If you read my recent article about how to fix the Falcons offensive line, you’d see how over the past few seasons the Falcons had drafted a slew of players who could be a decent fit at the Right Guard position, especially under Pat Hill. While I would love to steal Nicks away from New Orleans, I would rather solve the problem at a couple positions rather than a huge signing at one.
My personal prediction? Mike Smith’s comment on Sam Baker coming back is nothing but lip service, as the Falcons don’t want to show their hand in what they are going to do. It would be prudent to address the Right Guard position, but that at the exclusion of all other positions with desperate needs. I think LT is the biggest need on this team, and if Baker is going to continue to be the answer there, things are looking grim indeed.