The Atlanta Falcons officially announced that they have acquired former Tennessee Titans guard Andy Levitre in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2016 and a conditional pick in 2017. The move was first hinted at by Levitre himself on twitter over an hour before the official announcement and later confirmed by other sources.
Levitre’s arrival potentially shores up the left guard position for the Falcons, where the team still has unanswered questions revolving around James Stone and Mike Person. Stone started for most of the month of August at the position, but struggled in the team’s third preseason game against the Miami Dolphins. Person started at the position in the final week of practice following the loss to Miami as well as the preseason finale last night against the Baltimore Ravens. Person worked most of the offseason as the team’s starting left guard before being moved to backup center behind Joe Hawley upon Stone’s emergence last month.
Levitre signed one of the most lucrative contracts ever given to an offensive guard in NFL history back in 2013 when he agreed to a six-year deal worth $46.8 million. However knee injuries sapped Levitre his first season in Tennessee, which were followed by a hip injury that limited him the following offseason. A coaching and offensive scheme change further limited Levitre into a poor 2014 season. He was on the outs this past offseason as the Titans kicked the tires on former Falcons left guard Justin Blalock.
Levitre saw his time end as a starter this summer when the team opted to promote rookie right tackle Jeremiah Poutasi to the starting lineup and moved Byron Bell to left guard midway through camp.
Levitre earned his massive contract after four excellent seasons with the Buffalo Bills. While Levitre started predominantly at left guard, he also managed to log a single start at center and five at left tackle due to injuries. One of those starts at left tackle came midway through the 2011 season where he managed to hold his own against Dallas Cowboys edge-rusher DeMarcus Ware. Levitre played left tackle at Oregon State, where his ability to clear run lanes for former Falcons running back Jacquizz Rodgers led to him being a second-round pick of the Bills in 2009.
The Falcons are now without their fifth and sixth-round picks in next year’s draft, after losing the former due to illegal crowd noise penalties. The condition placed upon the 2017 pick is unknown but is likely linked to Levitre’s playing time in 2015 and/or 2016.
The Falcons will be compelled to take on the entirety of Levitre’s $6.5 million base salary on their cap this season. Levitre is signed through 2018, and will have base salaries totaling $18.8 million after 2015. However the Falcons can cut him after the 2015 season without taking on any dead money onto their cap since the Titans are on the hook for that.