There’s no doubt the Falcons need an upgrade at right guard, and Kansas City Chiefs guard Geoff Schwartz might be able to provide that. He is considered the top-rated guard this offseason by Pro Football Focus, Yahoo Sports! Shutdown Corner and Rotoworld.
Schwartz has had an interesting career, serving as a journeyman with three separate teams after being a seventh-round pick out of Oregon by the Carolina Panthers in 2008. He spent his rookie season on the Panthers practice squad, unable to make the final roster behind first-round pick Jeff Otah and veteran backups Jeremy Bridges and Frank Omiyale. But the following year with Bridges and Omiyale elsewhere, Schwartz got the opportunity to backup Otah. He wound up starting the final three games of that season as an injury replacement for Otah.
In 2010, Schwartz picked up where he left off the previous season starting the first five games at right tackle as Otah missed the entire season due to injury. Then the poor play of Mackenzy Bernadeau at right guard prompted Schwartz to switch to that position thereafter. He finished the season starting the remaining 11 games at right guard and earned the second-highest grade among Panthers linemen according to Pro Football Focus behind only left tackle Jordan Gross.
However, Schwartz’s career got off track in 2011 as he missed the entire year with a hip injury. In his stead, Geoff Hangartner started at right guard while Byron Bell filled in at right tackle for a once-again injured Otah. With Schwartz hitting free agency after the season, the Panthers opted to keep Hangartner at guard, and also were willing to give Otah another shot to return healthy to compete with Bell at right tackle. Thus Schwartz walked via free agency and signed with the Minnesota Vikings. That decision did not prove fruitful for Carolina, as Hangartner struggled in 2012 and would be replaced a year later at that spot. Otah was unable to get healthy and was traded to the New York Jets in July, but failed his physical, voiding the trade. He would be cut by the Panthers shortly thereafter and has yet to get another opportunity in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Schwartz managed to split snaps with right guard Brandon Fusco for a couple of games in 2012 with the Vikings. But the Vikings opted to let Schwartz walk after the season and he signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs for the veteran minimum.
It proved to be a fortuitous turn of events for the Chiefs. While Schwartz began last year as a backup, his steady play over the course of the year won him the starting job at right guard and a chance to return to the Chiefs at a much higher salary.
Schwartz started the 2013 season-opener for the Chiefs at right guard since regular Jon Asamoah was nursing a calf injury. He got his second start in Week 4 at left guard due to a groin injury to Jeff Allen. But in Week 11, the Chiefs opted to replace Asamoah at right guard with Schwartz and the latter finished out the season there. Schwartz also got reps in Week 17 at right tackle when Eric Fisher went down with a groin injury.
Schwartz is looking for stability with a long-term deal from some team this offseason, whether that’s with the Chiefs or another. He obviously could find that in Atlanta, as well as a number of places that are looking for upgrades at their guard position.
A 6-6, 340-pound guard like Schwartz, noted for his effectiveness both as a run blocker and pass protector should be highly coveted by a number of teams. And that could lead to a bidding war for Schwartz if he manages to hit the open market, driving up his price.
While most don’t expect Schwartz to garner a deal on par with what the Tennessee Titans gave Andy Levitre last offseason (six years, $46.8 million), if multiple teams get involved in seeking Schwartz, it’s certain that he’ll make a lot more than the $665,000 he earned in 2013.
The Falcons should have the ability to spend this offseason, which means they should certainly be in the mix if money talks in regards to Schwartz.
- Good size and strength to get consistent position and push as a run blocker
- Has good feet for his size plus strength makes him effective in pass protection
- Versatile and has started at three different positions (LG, RG, RT) in NFL
- Lacks elite feet and athleticism which can lead to struggles against quicker interior rushers
- Not as dominant a power blocker as size would merit
- More of an inline blocker and not quite as effective when asked to block on the move or in space