Earlier today, we learned from ESPN’s Vaughn McClure that Ricardo Allen was likely to get a second round tender from the Atlanta Falcons. That wasn’t at all a surprise, given that Allen was a quality starter last year, and sure enough the Falcons announced the move this afternoon.
The bigger surprise, though? They also gave a second round tender to Ben Garland, who spent most of last year as a reserve guard. That one legitimately shocked me.
The move for Garland raises several questions, none of which we can answer at the moment. Given that they’re tying up nearly $3 million in Garland, a steady and versatile player who got a handful of starts last year for Andy Levitre, it’s fair to wonder whether he’s going to get a real shot to start at right guard in place of Wes Schweitzer. It’s also fair to wonder whether the Falcons might be setting themselves up to trade one of their guards, whether they have zero faith in last year’s fourth round pick Sean Harlow to be a useful reserve, or whether they think a team might surrender a second round pick to snag Garland. The final possibility is that the Falcons are just plain worried about Levitre’s health and Schweitzer’s long-term viability, and they view Garland as a necessary safety net for both players.
Any way you slice it, it’s a bit of a surprise, as good as Garland was at times during his starting stints in 2017. We’ll have to hope the Falcons will shed some light on the reasoning behind the move, because on first glance, I’m not quite sure I understand giving Garland $2.9 million unless they’re planning to have him start.
For Allen, as I mentioned, this is a sensible move and a likely bridge deal as the Falcons move to work out a long-term pact with their starting free safety. Allen is a reliable tackler and works well as a deep coverage option with Keanu Neal lurking closer to the line of scrimmage to deliver the pain, and Marquand Manuel and Dan Quinn regularly talk about his importance to the defense.
We’ll warmly welcome both players back to Atlanta, and see what the Falcons do starting Wednesday with their increasingly limited free agent dollars.