The Atlanta Falcons have repeatedly shown a willingness to extend players before they’re scheduled to hit free agency, and they usually wind up saving some money in the process. Exhibit A: Ryan Schraeder.
The veteran right tackle is one of the team’s best stories, going from an undrafted Valdosta State product to one of the league’s most respected right tackles, and he’s earned that recognition over the last couple of seasons. The Falcons signed him to a nice new deal that made him one of the better paid right tackles in the entire league before the 2016 season, but then he put together another stellar year.
As Danny Kelly at The Ringer notes, that makes him a bit underpaid, especially in the guaranteed money department.
Schraeder was Pro Football Focus’s highest-rated right tackle in 2015, allowing just three sacks, two hits, and 20 hurries on the year, and he followed that up with another solid campaign in 2016, finishing sixth at his position group. In November, Atlanta rewarded Schraeder with a long-term deal that looks good in average annual value and pays well in 2017, but with just $7.5 million guaranteed at signing, the deal for the former undrafted free agent out of Valdosta State came in well under market in the most important category.
This team’s fortunes are very dependent on finding cap space for their numerous stars now that they’ve raised the talent level so high, so any time they can get a player as good as Schraeder for a relative bargain, they deserve to be lauded for it.
Schraeder, meanwhile, will enter the season as one of the league’s better tackles, and is building a case to be considered one of the better right tackles in the team’s history. Both sides are lucky to have the other.