Yesterday, several clubs announced they were using the franchise tag. There were many ripples from those decisions, but the ones that most directly impact our beloved Falcons came from what happened to the left tackle market.
In the last couple of weeks, here's what happened to three of the most prominent potential free agent left tackles:
- The Giants signed Will Beatty to a pricey long-term deal
- The Broncos franchised Ryan Clady
- The Chiefs franchised Branden Albert
I don't need to tell you that this complicates the market. The Falcons were always likely to be focused on bringing back Sam Baker, because he'll be reasonably affordable and he's familiar with the offense. Taking three of the four top left tackles off the market before the league year even opens means that there's likely to be more demand for Baker's service than there would have been otherwise among tackle-needy teams like the Bears, Dolphins and Cardinals.
Given this reality, the Falcons have a couple of options. They can try to lock up Baker before he gets to the open market and potentially sees his price tag spike, or they can see what the market bears and try to bring him back then. I do expect them to at least make an effort to re-sign Baker, because they're not likely to be in on Jake Long and nobody else out there is likely to represent an upgrade.
The alternative would be to sign Will Svitek and give Lamar Holmes a chance to duke it out with him at left tackle, but that's not necessarily the ideal solution. I consider Holmes the long-term answer at right tackle and Svitek would need to be healthy and reprise his quality 2011 after a year lost to injury. That's a big risk.