The Falcons will not use the franchise tag on Kaleb McGary, meaning unless a deal gets done in the next week or so, the team’s 2022 right tackle will be entering free agency.
That report comes from multiple outlets, including Josh Kendall at The Athletic, and confirms that the Falcons weren’t willing to utilize the hefty, nearly $18 million tag to buy themselves time in negotiations, if indeed the close-mouthed franchise is still in talks with McGary.
The Falcons will not franchise tag Kaleb McGary, who has a market value of $17.7 million per, according to @spotrac. McGary had his best season as a pro last year and fits in well in Atlanta's heavy run system, but no guarantee he's back clearly.— Josh Kendall (@JoshTheAthletic) March 7, 2023
We’ll see if a deal gets done, but if not, the Falcons will be going hard for a new right tackle in free agency or the draft, given a dearth of in-house options. McGary was solid in pass protection and excellent as a run blocker in 2022, the finest season of his career to this point, and my working theory was that the team would look to re-sign him to a 3-4 year deal aimed at capturing the rest of his prime. The importance of the ground game to Arthur Smith and this offense drove my thinking there, and it will still be an important factor if they wind up replacing McGary entirely.
If a deal doesn’t get done, McGary’s price point and one year of relative excellence will likely be a reason why. You’ll recall that McGary had been so-so-to-pretty-good in his three previous years in Atlanta, and the team elected not to pick up his fifth-year option and let him play out his fourth year before hitting free agency. After the caliber of season he just enjoyed, McGary won’t lack for suitors should he hit the open market.
We’ll know in about a week whether he’ll be exploring the open market, so stay tuned.