It wasn’t long ago the Atlanta Falcons locked up a pair of pending free agents in Ryan Schraeder and Robert Alford. In my opinion, only the Schrader deal will pay off.
Ryan Schraeder has developed into one of the best right tackles in all of football. He’s tough, athletic, and remains an excellent fit for Atlanta’s zone-blocking scheme. I believe Schraeder was the Falcons’ most important pending free agent and worth every penny of his 5-year, $33 million extension.
Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded Ryan Schraeder the best right tackle of 2015. His 97.2 pass-blocking efficiency ranked only behind All-Pro left tackle Joe Thomas. Schraeder is providing the same quality to Atlanta’s offensive line in 2016. PFF has graded him in their top 5 of the Falcons’ offensive player in all but two games this season.
On the other hand, Atlanta’s decision to extend cornerback Robert Alford was not welcomed news. Unlike Schraeder, Alford is not a player I’d consider irreplaceable, nor will he be consistently graded a top producer. He is prone to giving up the big play and continues to be a penalty magnet. Another knock on Alford is that he’s smaller and not the best fit for a defense designed to feature bigger corners.
The Atlanta Falcons signed Robert Alford to a 4-year, $38 million extension. The contract seems smaller but the Alford’s $21 million guaranteed to Ryan Schraeder’s $12.5 million is a head-scratcher. I’ll admit Alford has stepped up his game since Desmond Trufant’s injury; however, the emergence of Jalen Collins and Brian Poole does give Atlanta other options.
It’s also worth noting this year’s draft class of CBs looks pretty darn good; both in terms of top-end talent to depth players. Robert Alford could be replaced with a mid-round pick or even a more reasonably-priced free agent from another team. I get that Dan Quinn loves Alford’s speed, but I don’t know that defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel can fix all of his deficiencies.
Alford’s contract doesn’t break the bank but the Falcons could’ve spent the money elsewhere. Pass rushers, interior d-lineman, right guard, tight end and linebacker depth, are all targets for the Falcons this offseason.