USA TODAY Sports
Todd McClure is hanging up his cleats after 14 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
McClure has locked down the middle of the offensive line in Atlanta for over a decade now. Drafted in Round 7 of the 1999 NFL Draft, McClure first started for the Falcons in 2000. A knee injury he suffered in training camp his rookie year kept him sidelined, but he became a reliable starter the following season.
Speculation of his retirement began last offseason, but McClure assured everyone he never considered calling it quits at that point. He signed a one-year deal in 2012 as he was "still having fun" at that point. Now a 36-year-old veteran, he's reached the end of the line.
McClure started a total of 195 regular season games during his career. Aside from 2011, McClure hadn't missed a single game since 2001. You'll be hard pressed to find that kind of production from a seventh-round pick.
I was fortunate enough to talk to McClure (not personally, just as a part of the media scrum) a few times at Flowery Branch last season. He's an honest, laid-back, respectful guy who will surely be missed around the Falcons locker room. Everyone holds him in high regard. It will be tough to fill his shoes, whoever takes on the task.
Peter Konz appears the likely candidate to replace Mud Duck. Konz moved to right guard last season after being drafted as a center out of Wisconsin, but moving back to his original position may be a more plausible scenario. Pro Football Focus rated Konz as the worst played on the Falcons offense in 2012. It was his first season. There are growing pains. Sure. Switching back to center still makes sense.
It will be a strange sight seeing the Falcons job out of the tunnel without No. 62 in 2013. Farewell thoughts for McClure?
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