The one thing you could say for Hugh Thornton, who retired earlier this week after a couple of months on the team, is that he had experience. Vaughn McClure revealed that Thornton was never (or at least not recently) considered to be in the running for a starting job, which means the right guard battle should not be impacted significantly.
That said, the Falcons are going to be looking at a lot of young players at the position. If they want a veteran to shore things up and join the competition—and there’s not much evidence they want the latter—they could still dive into free agency. Anyone they get at this point will have significant question marks and will likely come cheap, however.
The most popular name on this list, Mangold was a very good center for the Jets for a very long time. Even at the age of 33, he’s a solid blocker and has pretty quick feet, and I don’t think he’d suffer too much from a move over to guard.
He is, however, a diminished player from his great heights, and would be little more than a one year stopgap for the Falcons if Schweitzer, Harlow and company flailed. He also may be able to land a center gig, still, as the Saints currently have an injury issue at the position.
/throws hands in air
Beyond Mangold, who I just mentioned, there are a few guys who are perhaps young and athletic enough to be worth bringing aboard as summer competition. There are no inspiring names left after Mangold, and you can argue that a 33-year-old center isn’t particularly inspiring in his own right.
It appears the Falcons have been shooting straight with us about their confidence in Wes Schweitzer, then, and they’ve assembled a nice collection of interesting young players to compete for roles both in the present and down the line. It’s nice to see a Falcons team with a long-term plan, isn’t it?
Let’s just hope they don’t need to dive into this market.