Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is the offensive line. Arguably the weakest unit on the roster in 2021, the Falcons have left the starting group intact and made very few impact additions. Two signings came at tackle in Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson, along with a sixth-round rookie guard in Justin Shaffer.
Next up is fourth-year right tackle Kaleb McGary.
OT Kaleb McGary
Contract: $3.27M cap hit in 2022, free agent in 2024
Career Production: 46 games played, 45 games started | 2,981 snaps played, 9 penalties, 26 sacks allowed | 62.8 overall PFF grade
2021 Production: 16 games played, 16 games started | 986 snaps played, 3 penalties, 9 sacks allowed
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 1st Round (31st overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2019-present)
The Falcons drafted two offensive linemen in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft in what was supposed to be a complete retooling of the right side of the line. Chris Lindstrom, who I touched on yesterday, was undoubtedly a massive success. Kaleb McGary, who Atlanta drafted at 31 after a trade-up, has been a decidedly mixed bag. To McGary’s credit, he immediately earned a starting job in his rookie season. He took over right tackle duties from veteran Ryan Schraeder and never looked back, starting 45 games over the next three seasons.
His 2019 season was his weakest and most inconsistent, which isn’t unexpected for a rookie tackle. While McGary did improve to the level of an average starter in 2020 and 2021, the inconsistency has remained. There’s no denying that McGary is capable of very good games, both as a run blocker and pass protector. His shut-down performance of Cam Jordan in a game against the Saints was exceptional. But McGary simply can’t seem to string together above-average play. For every good game, McGary has had an equally bad one.
That led to Atlanta declining McGary’s fifth-year option. It’s unsurprising, considering it would have guaranteed him $13.2M in 2023. That being said, it’s still within the realm of possibility that McGary finally breaks through and takes a step forward this season. In that case, he could be in line for a significant payday from either Atlanta or another team on the open market. McGary’s starting spot is not guaranteed, however, as he’ll have to fend off what could be spirited competition from veteran signings Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson.
Projection: Kaleb McGary is the incumbent starter at right tackle and is entering an important season for his NFL future. He’s the favorite to start once again, but will have to win what could be a tough competition with veteran additions Germain Ifedi and Elijah Wilkinson. If McGary takes a step forward this year, he could be in line for a lucrative payday in 2023.