Honestly, I've been expecting a patchwork solution at center all offseason, one that involves Gino Gradkowski, potentially a rookie, and a roll of duct tape. Jason Cole at Bleacher Report is saying that the Falcons are expected to be major players for Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack, however, which would blow up those expectations in a major way if it's true.
Insider Buzz: Falcons Have Big Interest in Alex Mack, Jaguars Backing off https://t.co/aDjGNQgNHx via @bleacherreport— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) March 7, 2016
There are reasons to take this with a grain of salt, primarily because Cole has a very mixed track record with Falcons rumors. He was one of the first to report that the Falcons were asking Paul Soliai to take a pay cut, but he also reported that Rex Ryan was the frontrunner in Atlanta (jury's still out on that one) and that the Falcons were interested in Greg Hardy (they weren't). In this case, I certainly hope he's right.
Why this makes sense
Mack is the best center on the market by a very wide margin, and he has enough talent to upgrade the middle of the offensive line massively. You can afford to go with a Mike Person or James Stone to the right of Mack because he's such a massive upgrade on what Person brought to the table a year ago, and Andy Levitre should look better with a better center next to him, as well. The already robust run blocking would improve, and Matt Ryan's pass protection would soar. It's a deeply logical move for Atlanta
Why it doesn't make sense
Mack is going to be hugely expensive, as he should be given his talent, and that's going to limit what the Falcons can do in free agency beyond that. They just handed out $5 million to Ryan Schraeder and Paul Worrilow today, and landing Mack and a relative big name like George Iloka would leave them with scant cap space to fill a handful of other needs, much less bring aboard the gobs of reserves they'll need with only five draft picks.
Cost is really the only argument against the move, however.
I really struggled with this one, because I don't know what to make of Cole's Falcons history, and the Falcons are now being linked to way too many big names (George Iloka, Bruce Irvin, Olivier Vernon, Travis Benjamin, etc.) for all of these reports to be accurate. But center is a massive need for Atlanta, they have the opportunity to lock down the position with one of the best players in football for the next 3-5 years, and they have enough cap space to swing it.
Rather than assign an arbitrary number based on a very weak hunch, I'll just admit I don't know if this is happening or not. I'm hopeful it will, but something tells me the cost won't wind up working out for Atlanta.