D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweeted earlier today that the Atlanta Falcons are still looking at free-agent options at right offensive guard, as they are reportedly contemplating signing Chris Chester and Ted Larsen. Currently the Falcons are set to start Mike Person in the vacant right guard position.
The Falcons pursued former Seattle Seahawks right guard J.R. Sweezy earlier this offseason, but he signed a five-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two weeks ago. Chester spent last season with the Falcons and performed ably in 16 starts at right guard for the team. Larsen spent this past season starting 10 games at right guard for the Arizona Cardinals.
Chester, 33, expressed interest in returning to the Falcons following post-season shoulder surgery. The injury did not prevent Chester from starting every game last year as he graded 24th out of 81 qualifying guards according to premium website Pro Football Focus. He was signed by the Falcons following the 2015 draft after he was released by the Washington Redskins. At the time it was believed the Falcons were looking for potential help at left guard, where Person was atop the depth chart following the release of Justin Blalock. However the Falcons quickly plugged Chester in at right guard, overtaking incumbent Jon Asamoah in training camp. Chester became entrenched at right guard and the Falcons shuffled around the rest of their interior offensive line before eventually settling on Person at center and Andy Levitre at left guard just before the regular season started.
Person struggled in 14 starts playing a brand new position at center and the Falcons quickly upgraded over him at the outset of free agency by signing three-time Pro Bowler Alex Mack away from the Cleveland Browns. While Person has spent the majority of his time in the NFL since he entered in 2011 at guard, it’s likely that his inconsistent performance in 2015 prevents the Falcons from fully handing him the starting position.
Larsen, 28, entered the league as a sixth-round pick of the New England Patriots out of N.C. State in 2010. He was cut by the Patriots during his initial training camp and scooped up off waivers by the Buccaneers. He was promoted to the starting lineup midway through his rookie season and finished with 11 starts at left guard.
In 2012, Larsen saw significant action at right guard in 13 starts as an injury replacement for Davin Joseph. In 2014, he signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals to compete for a reserve role, but ultimately managed to upset 2013 first-round pick Jonathan Cooper in the competition at left guard. Larsen started all 16 games at left guard for the Cardinals that season and was expected to compete for the starting center position in 2015. However his services were eventually needed again at right guard where he once again unseated Cooper and finished this past year with 10 starts. This past year, he ranked 74th out of 81 qualifiers at guard according to Pro Football Focus’ grades.
For his career, Lsarsen has started 57 out of 86 games over six seasons at all three interior line positions.