The Atlanta Falcons kept their free agency limited, but clearly targeted former San Francisco 49ers and Minnesota Vikings guard Brian Fusco. For those unaware, Fusco showed great promise early in his career and signed a deal with a max value of $25 million with the Vikings. He got hurt then struggled pretty significantly. He bounced back starting every game for Kyle Shanahan and held his own.
Based on his salary, Fusco is definitely starting in Atlanta.
The #Falcons signed offensive lineman Brandon Fusco to a 3-year deal worth $12.75M, source said.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 14, 2018
Since most Falcons fans probably haven’t watched his 1,000+ snaps last season, we usually turn to Pro Football Focus for an idea on what to expect. Mike Conti took a quick look, and it’s reassuring.
Started all 16 games for San Francisco last year.— Mike Conti (@MikeConti929) March 14, 2018
Pro Football Focus graded him at 76.0 (by comparison, Wes Schweitzer was a 43.7, Andy Levitre was a 78.0) https://t.co/JtcT8L9I5U
While I had hoping Atlanta would clear enough cap space for one of the top available guards, it’s more or less unnecessary. Fusco will slide in behind the best center in the league, and one of the best right tackles in the league. Basically, not being Wes Schweitzer is a huge plus. I would be terrified to see the team put Schweitzer and a rookie in a camp battle for the starting job.
What is not clear is what this move means for the likes of Schweitzer and Sean Harlow. Atlanta surprisingly placed a second-round tender on Ben Garland, ensuring they keep the backup guard. They paid him an extra million to remove any possibility another team snatches him up. That should mean Garland is the top backup for the interior line. Harlow is apparently not far enough along to be in serious consideration for the starting or backup spot. He was drafted just under a year ago, but it is a disappointing start to see him already out of the competition. Schweitzer, on the other hand, showed he’s not ready after 18 games. He may not make it through final roster cuts.