I fully expected the Falcons to entertain the notion of letting Ben Garland walk this offseason. Garland has been a valuable, versatile reserve on the interior of the offensive line, but there was plenty of smoke that indicated the team might be interested in a guard in the 2018 NFL Draft, and they signed Brandon Fusco to join Andy Levitre, Wes Schweitzer, and Sean Harlow at the position.
But I forgot two important things: That Garland is the only proven option at center on the roster at the moment, and that Garland finished the year on such an impressive note for the playoff-bound Falcons.
Garland’s probably a league average starter or a bit above on most teams in the NFL, so it’s not particularly surprising the Falcons wanted to retain him, even if it was not necessarily cheap to do so. What he represents is legitimate security for a Falcons team that saw Levitre slowed by injury a year ago, and it’s also a team that is acutely aware that the great Alex Mack is not getting any younger. Ensuring they have capable depth in the most crucial moments of the season is vital for a team with legitimate championship hopes, and they don’t come more reliable than the man who kept Matt Ryan clean all post-season a year ago.