When the Falcons first signed Austin Pasztor, I assumed he would be the team’s swing tackle for the 2017 season. The pieces certainly fit, as Pasztor was a player with starting experience at tackle who was still young and had some upside, and the team had trotted out worse players as their backups in the past.
Then Pasztor was dealing with an injury, the Falcons traded for Ty Sambrailo, and that was basically that. Pasztor rarely was even active in 2017, and now that he’s a free agent, the Falcons will need to decide if he’s worth having around or not with Sambrailo already under contract.
As always, let’s look at the for and against here.
Pasztor is still pretty young, and there were times during his stints with the Browns and Jaguars where he looked like he might turn into a pretty decent tackle. Pasztor also has experience at the guard position, which means he could be in play as a deep reserve in the team’s tackle rotation if they choose not to overhaul it via free agency or the draft. As a 9th or 10th offensive lineman, Pasztor is probably better than most teams are likely to have, and I’m not totally convinced he’d be a massive drop off versus, say, Ty Sambrailo.
This one’s pretty easy. Pasztor won’t beat out Sambrailo based on last year’s usage of both players, which means he’d have to crack a guard rotation that includes last year’s fourth round pick Sean Harlow, Wes Schweitzer, and Andy Levitre, plus a likely addition this offseason. The chances of that don’t seem overly robust, which means Pasztor is much more likely to go to another team that needs his services more.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself simply whether the Falcons are going to give Pasztor a real shot at unseating Sambrailo, and the answer to that seems like an obvious no. If that’s the case, for better or for worse, Pasztor simply has no real value in Atlanta.
The Verdict: No
I think Pasztor is still an interesting player, and at worst a solid reserve tackle with some versatility. I also think the Falcons have plans at guard and are set at tackle, at least in their own minds, which makes Pasztor supremely expendable. Barring an offseason injury, he won’t be back.