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Falcon Report

Falcons Re-Sign OT Kaleb McGary; Right Decision and Draft Impact?

By Daniel Flick,

2023-03-15

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Did the Atlanta Falcons make the right move by re-signing right tackle Kaleb McGary in free agency, and how does it alter draft plans?

The Atlanta Falcons and right tackle Kaleb McGary seemed destined to part ways.

After the franchise tag deadline came and went with no action, the Falcons had nearly a week to strike a long-term deal with McGary ... but to no avail.

The situation reached new heights when the Denver Broncos gave fellow free agent right tackle Mike McGlinchey $17.5 million per year - when McGary was expected to make even more.

But in an instance, it all changed, as McGary and the Falcons agreed to a three-year, $34.5 million contract on Tuesday worth $11.5 million annually.

It's simply another big win for Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot and coach Arthur Smith, as retaining McGary just one day after giving a five-year extension to guard Chris Lindstrom solidifies the right side of the offensive line for years to come.

McGary, 28, is coming off a career season, one that has led to his return to Atlanta after the team declined his fifth-year option last spring.

Across 17 starts, the 2019 first-round pick earned an 86.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus , including a 91.6 in run blocking, the second-best mark by an offensive tackle in the NFL.

Further, while McGary's six sacks allowed leaves something to be desired, his 66.9 pass blocking grade was a career best, inspiring hope that another leap forward can be made after substantial growth from 2021 to 2022.

Should the Falcons have picked up McGary's fifth-year option, he'd be on the books for $13.2 million, and if they'd given him the franchise tag, it would've been $17.7 million.

So, in this case, Atlanta locked up a critical part of its offensive line that led to the No. 3 rushing offense league-wide, and did so in a cost-effective manner, making it a stellar move by Fontenot, Smith and staff.

Another benefit of McGary's return is that the Falcons are likely no longer in the market for an offensive tackle in the first-round of the 2023 NFL Draft, which removes potential names such as Ohio State's Paris Johnson Jr. and Georgia's Broderick Jones from the conversation.

As a result, attention turns to cornerback and defensive end, both of which are expected to have premiere players on the board when the Falcons' No. 8 overall pick rolls around.

Further, by signing free agent quarterback Taylor Heinicke and seemingly committing to Desmond Ridder under center, Atlanta's likely out of the mix to be drafting a signal caller in the first round.

Thus, potential targets at No. 8 are beginning to grow clearer, be it corners Christian Gonzalez (Oregon) and Devon Witherspoon (Illinois) or defensive ends Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech) and Lukas Van Ness (Iowa).

With McGary now officially back, the Falcons' offensive line is beginning to take shape - and the same can be said for their draft plans.

Despite rocky play, McGary earned a second contract ... and now has a chance to be a key cog on a Falcons team poised for improvement after a strong start to free agency.

And it's all at a team-friendly price, making it a true win-win for both sides.


You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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