The Atlanta Falcons have played this offseason, as well as all offseasons under Terry Fontenot, extremely close to the vest. Under the new general manager, we rarely have insight into moves ahead of time. The only rumor this offseason has been Atlanta’s interest in safety Jessie Bates, likely thanks to Bates posting on Instagram his meeting with a number of Falcons players.
Other than that? Atlanta may still grab a quarterback or run it back with Desmond Ridder. The latest extension, Lorenzo Carter, wasn’t leaked until right before the pass rusher signed. The team’s thoughts on right tackle Kaleb McGary have been locked up tighter than Fort Knox. Fontenot rightly declined the fifth-year option on McGary after multiple average (or below average) seasons. Since then, McGary shined in Arthur Smith’s run-heavy scheme, a key component to Atlanta producing an effective offense with an extremely ineffective quarterback.
The team likely thought about franchising McGary, a few million more than that fifth-year option, to see if McGary is a one-year wonder of finally came into his own. Atlanta quietly passed, suggesting that the team didn’t think he was worth that amount — perhaps they aren’t sold on him in the long term or that he excels in the less valuable run blocking.
Well, per ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the Falcons want McGary back.
The opening of the legal tampering window can spark urgency for teams that want to re-sign their priority free agents. THat’s the case for a couple of right tackles, Atlanta’s Kaleb McGary and Jacksonville’s Jawaan Taylor. Their teams would like to keep them and are making good-faith efforts.
If the Falcons let McGary walk, they are likely taking a closer look at a tackle at the top of the draft. That would be a cap-friendly move that doesn’t do much to make Atlanta better. The team already has plenty of spending money for free agency.
While still uncertain, Fontenot looks comfortable losing a good player without breaking the bank. One of (many) reasons Thomas Dimitroff failed in Atlanta was overpaying his own players. The start of that was usually the franchise tag. Dimitroff never wanted that player to hit free agency. Here, McGary will certainly be learning what his market is vs. Atlanta paying more than other teams to retain that player.
Keep an eye out for news on McGary. He’s likely to land somewhere in the first few days of free agency, whether in Atlanta or elsewhere. If he lands elsewhere, it would almost certainly be because Fontenot set a value and refused to budge.