Chris Chester was part of one of the best offensive lines in football last season, but he’s 34 years old. His career has to be winding down, and according to general manager Thomas Dimitroff, the team expects him to retire in the near future.
During an appearance on SiriusXM Radio with Vic Carucci and Alex Marvez on Tuesday, Dimitroff said it’s time for Chester to hang up his cleats.
“If I were betting on it, I’d say it’s time for him to make his move to the next part of his life,” Dimitroff said. “He was a really good asset for us, of course. He helped solidify that (interior line) with (center) Alex Mack and (left guard) Andy Levitre.”
It’s not the strongest draft class of interior linemen, but since the Falcons have reasonable depth at most positions, looking to the draft to replace Chester is a possibility.
The Falcons also have Wes Schweitzer, a sixth round pick out of San Jose State last year, on the roster, and he’s an option. Schweitzer knows the system and has had a full year to develop at the pro level. They also have Ben Garland on the roster, and Garland is a versatile interior lineman who could be a serviceable replacement.
The team could also plug in Hugh Thornton, the free agent they signed from the Indianapolis Colts.
Chester is aging, but he’s been solid, especially after the addition of Alex Mack. Interior line play was significantly improved last season with Mack anchoring the center, and hopefully it’ll be the same going forward regardless of who takes over for Chester.