Most Falcons fans would love to see the team go out and get a stud left tackle, the kind you plug and play at the position for a decade. Most Falcons fans agree that Sam Baker is not that player.
I've been cautioning since the offseason began that we should not expect the Falcons to go out and do that. Baker's contract ensures he'll spend at least the next two season in Atlanta, barring a sudden willingness to swallow a massive amount of dead money on the salary cap, and there have been no indications that the team has soured on his skill when healthy.
Case in point, a free agent rundown in the latest article from D. Orlando Ledbetter:
5. BRANDEN ALBERT, T, KANSAS CITY: He’d have to be fine with playing right tackle because the Falcons believe that Sam Baker is their left tackle.
Public posturing is the norm this time of year, but keep in mind that Baker's cap hit if cut is slated to be somewhere north of $9 million and you understand why it makes little sense to cut him. Adding in another expensive left tackle salary, which Albert will command, would see the Falcons tying up a staggering amount of money in two tackles.
The better course of action would be the draft. If you're bullish on the Falcons bringing aboard a Jake Matthews or Greg Robinson, you can certainly see the logic of letting one of those players start at right tackle and line up as an heir apparent for 2016 or beyond, when the Falcons won't throw a wrench into their cap by cutting ties with Baker. It is still apparent, however, that the Falcons believe that a healthy Baker is a fine left tackle, even if many of us would strongly disagree.
Knowing that and barring any further injury issues from Baker, I've penciled him at left tackle. I have to believe that makes the Falcons more likely to invest their top draft pick in a pass rusher, but you can never rule out a tackle.
In other news, Jonathan Babineaux is continuing to indicate that he wants to return to Atlanta. I'm hopeful the team can find a way to fit him under the cap alongside Corey Peters, adding a big body or two through free agency and the draft to upgrade on Peria Jerry.