Justin Blalock was one of the few bright spots of Rich McKay's last draft class, taking hold of the starting left guard spot in his sophomore year and never letting go. The 2007 second-round selection has easily been Atlanta's best offensive lineman in the last decade.
Blalock signed a very player friendly deal in 2011 that is unfortunately reaching some very expensive salaries. He was scheduled to earn just about $11 million over the next two seasons. Blalock was widely considered a possible salary cap casualty before the Falcons were thought to be switching to a zone blocking scheme. The team now saves about $3.8 million in the 2015 season and look to be setting up for an active free agency.
From the team:
Blalock, 6-4, 326 pounds, was selected by the Falcons in the second round (39th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Texas. He started all 125 games in which he played, including 102 consecutive games between 2007 and 2014. Blalock started 15 games in 2014.
Now coming off a back injury, the big guard is a poor fit for a Kyle Shanahan blocking scheme that favors lighter, more athletic players. Falcon fans will certainly wish one of the team's most veteran players good luck on his next team.
Justin Blalock was one of my favorite #Falcons. Smart, durable guard who played well for a long time. Hope he finds a good gig elsewhere.— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) February 27, 2015
The Falcons will likely look for a cheaper replacement, either later in free agency or through the middle rounds of the draft. Kyle Shanahan has succeeded plugging in smaller name player into his zone blocking scheme.
We wish Blalock well.