The Atlanta Falcons will be mulling their options at guard throughout this offseason, undoubtedly. They could largely stand pat and start Andy Levitre and Wes Schweitzer, with Sean Harlow and Ben Garland returning to provide depth. They could draft a player like Isaiah Wynn of Georgia, one of the top guard options and a player who could be terrific sooner than later, to replace one of their starters. Or they could dip into a relatively shallow free agent pool.
With Andrew Norwell likely to cost a small fortune if he ever makes it to free agency in the first place, the top guard on the market figured to be a small upgrade for the Falcons. That all changed when the Bears decided to cut ties with guard Josh Sitton last night, however, and Sitton immediately becomes of the second-best option out there for Atlanta behind Norwell. He’ll also be significantly less expensive, which is a bonus.
Sitton was a top five guard per Pro Football Focus, and has been a rock solid pass protection and run blocking option basically his entire career. The only real downside to signing him is that he’s 32 years old and probably has put most of his best years on the field already, but that’s not the kind of downside that would prevent me from signing him to a three year, front-loaded contract as soon as I could.
The Falcons could cut ties with Levitre and replace him with Sitton, which would represent a real upgrade for the team at left guard. Or they could sign him, re-structure Levitre, and put one of the best interior lines in the entire NFL in front of Matt Ryan for at least one season. Both options are pretty appealing ones, and both would still leave the Falcons with a couple of young, promising guard options to develop along the way.
If the Falcons are going to pony up in free agency and they’re not going to bring back Dontari Poe, go ahead and give me Josh Sitton.