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Ryan Schraeder, Jake Long, and the curse of the big name

Why so many still want to replace Ryan Schraeder with Jake Long.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Ryan Schraeder has started 26 games over the last two seasons for the Falcons. He was a 16 game starter in 2015, and by some metrics, he was one of the best right tackles in the NFL. Certainly, he was one of the most durable and steady linemen on this team, he's just 27 years old, and he's a restricted free agent heading into the offseason.

By virtually any standard you choose, then, Schraeder should be a celebrated player, and certainly one the Falcons prioritize keeping around. While the team will surely figure out a way to lock him up for multiple years, a large part of the fanbase is still letting the team (and our Twitter account) know that Schraeder needs to be replaced by Jake Long.

This is weird for many, many reasons. Long is three years older, has not started 16 games since 2010, has had multiple surgeries in recent years, and is an unrestricted free agent at the moment. Considering I've also heard some people suggest that Jake Matthews is better suited to right tackle and Long should play left tackle, I don't think this is a particular indictment of Schraeder or his play. I think it's the curse of the big name rearing its head again.

Over my ten years covering this team, I've seen this happen again and again, where a combination of perceived backup magic and a familiar name conspire to make the actual starter an afterthought. Sometimes it's deserved, but in the case of a  fine player like Schraeder, it is not. But Long is a former top pick, an instantly identifiable tackle who has carved out a reputation as a star, and even if that reputation has dimmed, he's going to seem like an attractive option for a fanbase starved for quality line play.

The upshot is that Long may or may not be here, Schraeder certainly well, and this odd chapter in their respective careers will likely draw to a close if Schraeder turns in another healthy, effective season. We'll take a closer look at Schraeder's 2015 season and his 2016 outlook in our roster review, but suffice to say Schraeder shouldn't be going anywhere.