The Atlanta Falcons have announced that they have re-signed free-agent offensive guard Chris Chester today. Chester returns to the Falcons after starting all 16 games a year ago at right guard, despite dealing with a shoulder injury that required surgery after the season. Chester is expected to return fully healthy and recovered from the surgery by June. It was reported last month that the Falcons were still entertaining the possibility of re-signing Chester in the midst of his recovery.
Chester was signed by the Falcons within days following his release by the Washington Redskins after the 2015 NFL Draft. At the time, Chester was expected to supplant Mike Person as the team’s starting left guard after spending four seasons as the starting right guard for the Redskins.
But Chester quickly earned the starting right guard spot at the outset of training camp, ousting incumbent Jon Asamoah, who wound up on injured reserve and was released by the Falcons in December. The Falcons later acquired left guard Andy Levitire and moved Person to center at the start of the 2015 season.
Person was penciled into the starting right guard spot this offseason when the team signed center Alex Mack in free agency. But Chester’s return likely slates him to start at right guard instead with Person expected to serve as the team’s utility backup at all three interior positions.
However Person will likely receive first-team reps at right guard until Chester is cleared to return to practice, potentially opening the door for an open competition between the two this summer in training camp.
Chester, 33, has played a decade in the NFL after being initially selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Chester began his collegiate career at Oklahoma as a tight end before moving to center as a senior. He dabbled at that same position as well as left guard during his second season in Baltimore, but has played the majority of his career at right guard.
Chester is well known to the Falcons’ offensive coaching staff, having played under offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan while he served in the same capacity with the Redskins from 2011 to 2013. He also worked with current tight ends coach Wade Harman, who worked in that same capacity when Chester was with the Ravens from 2006 to 2010.