I cannot stop obsessing on the Atlanta Falcons offensive line situation, the Left tackle position in particular. I recently read this article talking about how the Atlanta Falcons could possible snatch up Pro-Bowl left tackle and Miami Dolphin Jake Long in the 2013 free-agency period. I wouldn’t have come up with this idea all on my own, but the writer says a lot of things that make a lot of sense.
The writer notes that the Falcons are in disarray on the o-line, and at the LT position in particular. He also notes that Jake Long is set to be a free-agent after the 2012 season. Both of those things make it look at least possible that the Falcons could sign Long in the next offseason. They would not have to use a draft pick on a LT in 2013, and that pick could be used to draft a pass-rush to bolster the Falcons’ defense.
Another thing was noted by the author that I had not taken note of. I knew that the Falcons drafted Stanford’s Jonathan Martin in the 2nd round in 2012, but I figured that they had plans to play him at right tackle to take over for Marc Colombo, or to move him inside to a guard position. The writer from Gather Sports argues that the Dolphins may have drafted Martin as part of a plan of succession with the intention of not bringing back Long and a massive contract for 2013 and going forward. It makes sense if that is what the Dolphins are really doing. If I were the Dolphins front office, I would have a hard time letting a player like Long walk, but maybe that really is their plan.
From the Falcons end, it makes a lot of sense. They could shore up a position that they have a lot of question marks at, and he would immediately make the offensive line and offense better. Some sources have broken down Long’s play and don’t think he is a ‘special’ player, but then again who is better at the LT position in the NFL, going up against the League’s best passrusher every week? He sure as heck is better than Sam Baker.
To this point I am hypothetically saying that the Dolphins allow Long to walk in free-agency, the strange allegiance that the Falcons have to Sam Baker doesn’t prevent them from letting him walk, and Thomas Dimitroff & Co. decide to go after long. The only issue I could see arising is that the Falcons may not be able to afford such a signing. They already have $108Million committed to the 2013 salary cap, which means they will only have about $12M to work with. They probably won’t be able to afford Long and to re-sign the valuable players whose contracts will be coming up again (ahem..Brent Grimes). One thing Atlanta does have is a lot of cap flexibility in the 2014 season. They only have $75M committed to 18 players for the 2014 season. If the Falcons decide to get creative with the 2013 cap and shift some money from the 2013 cap into the 2014 cap, they could come up as big players in the 2013 free-agency period, and land one of the most important signings in the NFL. It could be a signing that shifted the balance of the League in the Falcons’ favor.