In a year marred by inconsistent offensive line play, Justin Blalock is dependable. He's the Falcons' measure of consistency, a fact that's often glossed over. Imagine you're him for a moment. All around you there's chaos. Players getting benched, Pat Hill crying hysterically in the corner, and Matt Ryan instinctively flinching like one of those abused dogs in the Sheryl Crow commercials. These are the days of Blalock's life.
Blalock has admittedly struggled to run block effectively this season. I believe he can be better, notwithstanding my pretty consistent support. But from a consistency standpoint, he's better than the rest. He just has been, and that means something. Look no further than the Falcons' recent focus on shuffling their center/right guard combo like a blackjack dealer in Vegas to verify that fact. Blalock, unlike every other member of the offensive line, is still playing the position we thought he'd play coming into the 2013 season.
There's a lot of discussion about Blalock not living up to his contract. It's a fair criticism. His contract is presently the fourth most valuable on the team, a fact that doesn't quite sit right, until you release that he still makes less than Sam Baker. Blalock's under contract through the 2016 season, after which he will be 33-year-old unrestricted free agent. He's the 3rd highest paid guard in the NFL, the 9th highest paid player in the NFC South. In short, has he played like he's paid? The answer is maybe not. In my estimation, Blalock isn't worth his contract. I can admit that. But what are we going to do about it?
Blalock represents a lot of dead money over the next three years, $12.36 million to be exact. Cutting him would be wildly impractical. The other potential solution is a restructuring of his contract, an option that's, as they say, easier said than done. In the NFL, aside from guaranteed money, nothing's guaranteed. Blalock is understandably concerned about his future, as well as that of his family. Convincing him to restructure won't be easy, especially because he's already done it once.
Look, I understand that Blalock isn't perfect. But he's been a durable, competent fixture along the Falcons' offensive front for years now. He's one of the three most senior Falcons. Let's not throw the man under the bus because he's paid more than he's worth. Heck, aren't we all?
Now I'm curious to hear what you all think. What's the plan of attack with Blalock if you're Thomas Dimitroff? Do you cut him outright? Do you kidnap him until he agrees to restructure his contract yet again? Do you give him a big hug and tell him it'll all be okay? Discuss!