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Falcons guard Hugh Thornton retires from the NFL

The veteran guard hangs it up at age 25.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts-Training Camp Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Unless the Falcons sign someone else off the free agent scrap heap, the much-anticipated battle for the starting right guard job is going to come down to a collection of young, promising players. That’s because the major veteran contender for the job, former Colt Hugh Thornton, has decided to hang up his cleats.

To say this is a surprise is to understate things, given that Thornton is just 25 years old and was in a pretty favorable spot in Atlanta. He had just joined the team over the offseason, but he has dealt with several injuries of late.

With Thornton deciding to ride into the sunset—and hell, good for him—the Falcons will be looking at rookie fourth rounder Sean Harlow, versatile reserve Ben Garland, or second-year sixth rounder Wes Schweitzer for the starting job, with the current crop of undrafted free agents like Robert Leff also figuring to insert themselves in the picture. Schweitzer’s my favorite to win the gig—he has been all along—but it should be interesting this summer, and the Falcons suddenly have a lot of young dudes on the interior of their offensive line. I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

We wish Thornton well in retirement. Look for the Falcons to add another player to the 90 man roster in the near future.