Falcons: Franchise tagging Kaleb McGary is the smartest route to go
Just a handful of months ago it seemed like an inevitability that Kaleb McGary would be packing his bags and moving to another city, but, to his credit, he was able to turn in a fantastic fourth year with the Atlanta Falcons.
Now he is due to hit free agency, putting the Falcons in a precarious position; should they hand him a long-term deal? Should they let him walk? Or, perhaps, should they slap a franchise tag on him?
Why the Falcons would be wise to franchise tag Kaleb McGary
The franchise tag is a terrible thing for most players who fall victim to it. It restricts you from hitting the open market which turns into financial stability. It gives teams a cop-out to keep a player they aren’t fully committed to, buying them more time. The Atlanta Falcons would be wise to take advantage of the system to keep their starting right tackle for, at least, another season.
Surely, the Falcons wish they didn’t put themselves in this position in the first place by exercising McGary’s fifth-year option which would have been worth about $13 million, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. They made the correct decision, at the time.
Anyways, the Falcons should place an ‘exclusive franchise tag’ on their right tackle. As many know, the exclusive franchise tag takes the average of the top-five players’ salaries at the position, so in this case, it would take the top-five offensive linemen’s salaries.
It would not be cheap, but neither would signing him to a long-term deal that could blow up in your face.
The issue with McGary is that we have only seen one good year from him. Giving him what is essentially a one-year deal would be smart as it would allow you to see if he can duplicate the success, and if he does, then you attempt to sign him to a new deal. And even if you aren’t able to sign him to a big deal, you will still end up in the same position you are in right now.
The two worst things that can happen for the Falcons are, first, signing McGary to a huge deal only to find out his 2022 season was a fluke, and, second, letting him sign elsewhere and play extremely well while you are scrambling to find a replacement at what is an important position.
Yes, the one-year deal that is the franchise tag could cost upwards of $20 million (depending on what happens in free agency), but you won’t be on the hook for more than a year. Meanwhile, his market value on Spotrac.com is sitting at 4 years, $70 million which would place his average annual salary close to what the tag would cost.