Falcons Don't Rule Out Playing Sam Baker At Right Tackle In 2014

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN's Vaughn McClure has an interesting report about the unlikely prospect of Baker playing right tackle.

The Falcons have repeatedly indicated they view Sam Baker as their left tackle going forward, so any hint of ambivalence is worth noting. ESPN's Vaughn McClure spoke with Thomas Dimitroff recently and shared a trademark vague answer that didn't seem to rule out the possibility of Baker playing at right tackle:

"I think having a tackle that you can bring in who is versatile enough to play both left and right is very important for the National Football League in today’s game," Dimitroff said when asked if the team might consider moving Baker, depending on the health of his surgically repaired knee.

Now, it's worth noting that this is a non-answer for a very specific question, but that alone is interesting. Dimitroff had the opportunity to say that the team would not consider moving Baker off of left tackle and he elected not to, leaving the door open for someone else to take over the position down the road. Baker's career in Atlanta has been extremely up-and-down and many fans would clamor for that replacement, but McClure does note that the Falcons aren't expected to sink FA dollars into a big-time tackle regardless of how we might feel. Dimitroff did seem to allude to Baker staying put a little later, as well:

In the same breath, Dimitroff seemed optimistic about Baker being the left tackle he was a few seasons ago, despite coming off season-ending knee surgery. Baker has played left tackle since his rookie season. He became a left tackle in college at USC after starting his college career as a guard.

"We’re confident that Sam is going to be ready to go," Dimitroff said. "And we expect him to return to the form that he was in 2012."

Baker, of course, is coming off a serious knee injury that cost him most of the season. Even if he's widely expected to be ready for training camp, it's hard to deal in absolutes with a guy coming off major surgery, so keep that in mind as you read this.

Many of us are operating under the assumption that the Falcons will be choosing defense in the 2014 NFL Draft's first round, so it's doubly interesting that McClure goes out of his way to avoid ruling out that possibility. I find Greg Robinson to be an incredibly intriguing prospect and wouldn't be bothered at all by this, but it would definitely fly in the way of prevailing expectations for the last couple of months.

Will It Happen?

Ultimately, I don't believe the Falcons will move Baker to right tackle, regardless of what happens this offseason.

If he's healthy, he's still a competent left tackle, and if he's not healthy, they're not moving him to right tackle anyways. If the Falcons are going to surprise many mildly on draft day and pick up Robinson or Jake Matthews, the calculus might change by 2015 at the latest, but Baker's best fit is and always has been left tackle at the NFL level. Barring the aforementioned surprise, you'll see him in the same spot for 2014, with Lamar Holmes, Gabe Carimi or a draft pick locking down the right side.

Your thoughts?

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