The Atlanta Falcons will have to go young at center one of these days. It may not be in 2012.
That's the conclusion I came to after reading Mike Smith's recent comments about Todd McClure, the living legend who has missed only three games at the position since taking over full-time back in 2001. McClure remained an effective blocker last season and is considered a leader by the Falcons, and he's been around through four different coaching staffs. A leader and a player, says Smith:
"Todd has had a great four years since we've been here," head coach Mike Smith told PFW. "I can't speak to Todd in terms of what his thoughts are moving forward, but he's been an integral part of what we've accomplished. He's kind of been the cornerstone for our offensive line the last four years."
Read that and tell me the Falcons don't have some level of interest in keeping the 35-year-old around, at least for one more season. Given that Joe Hawley didn't knock anyone's socks off this year and the Falcons could use the strongest possible line in 2012, it makes perfect sense to keep McClure around if he's willing to come back for another season. I've seen nothing to indicate that he's ready to get the hell out of town.
So let's hope an accord is reached. If the Falcons can lock down McClure and add a left tackle or left guard in free agency, I like their chances of keeping Matt Ryan alive and Michael Turner & Friends running strong.
What do you say?