Apparently, there is reason to be optimistic about the end of the lockout. Whispers of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement coming to fruition seems to be growing into a low murmur. That is a good sign.
What all that means if that potentially within a month or so, free agency may finally hit in 2011. And not the odd 2010 version of it, where only players with six or more years of experience were allowed to hit the market. Instead, it may be the glorious, old system were players with four or more years of experience were allowed to test the open market.
You know, that great system that caused so many NFL teams to overpay above average players like they were going to be the ones to fix their franchises. The one where teams would hand out 8-figure signing bonuses like they were going out of style to players that would be replaced before their five and six-year deals were halfway done.
Yep, those were the good ole days.
And if those days return, then the Falcons will have to make some quick decisions. First and foremost should be locking up right tackle Tyson Clabo.
If/when we get free agency, it’s likely to be a very brief version of it. Teams normally pounce all over guys during normal free agency in March, imagine what they will do now with less than a month before camps open.
If there is a positive to this lockout, it’s probably the notion that many players probably won’t be as quick to leave for greener pastures as they would in a normal off-season. Many of the Falcons and other teams’ prospective free agents have been taking part in player-organized workouts. Keeping the comraderie together as they work through the off-season without coaches’ supervision.
It would be tough for some of those players to pick up and leave the minute we get down to real NFL business. I also think that some teams will be a bit less willing to throw huge money at free agents when the time comes. These players will 20% of the time they normally would to acclimate themselves to their new environment. And not only that, I think for similar reasons mentioned previously, players won’t want to pick up and move to a new NFL city so late in the year.
All this means that the Falcons should have a fairly good chance of re-signing Clabo. I think Clabo will be a desired commodity on the open market but because he plays right tackle, fewer teams will try and break the bank for him. The way the NFL works is that teams rarely spend big money on other teams right tackles. Frankly, when we signed Todd Weiner might have been the last time a large amount of money changed hands for a right tackle going to a new team. Thus, Clabo should not be priced out of the Falcons range.
The good thing is that probably several of the teams that probably could or would have made a major play for Clabo drafted right tackles, such as Dallas, Denver, Oakland, and Baltimore. I guess now the Falcons only really have to worry about the Redskins doing their thing.
But the Falcons should quickly come to an agreement with Clabo the day he is able to sign. He has been a consistent element on the Falcons front five the past few years, filling capably wherever the team has asked him. He is the team’s most consistent blocker, rarely has a bad game, and should be rewarded for such accomplishments.
Even before the Falcons place a call to Ray Edwards agent or whomever else, they need to make sure Clabo is a Falcon for a very long time.