While Tyson Clabo’s plate is already full as he is in New York trying to end the league’s labor crisis, he may find himself asking for seconds as a direct result shortly thereafter if he is then able to hit the open market as a free agent.
While I think it’s still probable that the Falcons will retain their best offensive linemen, recent reports indicate that the Falcons have a contingency plan in case that does not happen. Hopefully that contingency never goes into action.
Looking around the league, I’m not sure the market will be huge for Clabo. He is a right tackle after all, and teams traditionally reserve the big bucks for left tackles. But there still are several teams out there that could have their eyes on Clabo and be significant challengers to the Falcons in having his services next season. Here, I will discuss four such teams.
One noteworthy team is the Baltimore Ravens. The team moved Michael Oher to the left side to mixed results last year, but seem intent on him being their left tackle of the future. Last year’s right tackle, Marshal Yanda is penciled in as the teams’ long-term option at right guard, leaving right tackle vacant. They did draft Jah Reid this past April, but adding a veteran makes a lot of sense instead of starting a rookie.
The Ravens recent success could make them a draw to Clabo, as it would be a lateral move from one championship contender to another. However, the Ravens do not have a ton of cap space with some estimates putting them at around $118 million in terms of money on the books this year. That’s considerably more than the projected $103.5 million estimated to be on the Falcons books, especially when one considers that several estimate this season’s cap limit to be around $120 million.
One positive for the Falcons is if the Ravens pursue free agent corner Nnamdi Asomugha, then it’s highly unlikely they will be able to afford him and Clabo in the same off-season.
A second team is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs are looking to beef up their offensive line that was graded as one of the worst in football by some sources. While the Bucs seem prepared to enter next season with James Lee as the starter at right tackle, it would be a worthwhile mission for them to try and steal Clabo from the Falcons. Not only does it strengthen their line, but it also weakens the line of a division rival.
Unlike the Ravens, the Bucs should have a ton of cap space to spend this off-season, with a current payscale of around $64 million. Along with several other free agents, the Bucs will be in a position to offer Clabo as much money as he could possibly want.
Two other teams worth mentioning aren’t exactly good teams, but probably will be active in free agency are the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. Clabo makes a solid investment for either team because of their needs at right tackle, as well as both employing Alex Gibbs-esque blocking schemes that Clabo once played in here in Atlanta and Denver.
It’s no secret that the Redskins are willing to spend in free agency. The Seahawks, not so much, with GM John Schneider coming from the Ted Thompson school of management. But given the team’s 5-11 record last year, there may be more pep in their step this time around. Both teams have incumbent right tackles that are free agents, in Sean Locklear for the Seahawks and Jammal Brown. Most indications seem that Locklear’s departure from Seattle is a forgone conclusion. Recent reports however indicate that the Redskins are amenable to keep Brown, but face a situation similar to the Falcons in that they aren’t sure whether he can get a more lucrative offer elsewhere.
The Seahawks have added a lot of youth to their offensive line, with four of their projected starters being draft picks from the last three years. A veteran like Clabo would be a smart addition to balance out that youth. Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan should certainly be familiar with Clabo as he spent several weeks on the Broncos practice squad a few on their active roster during the 2004 season before being cut the following summer. It would be interesting to see if that would help or hurt their chances to land Clabo, since perhaps Clabo still may hold ill feelings.
Washington does not appear to be in good cap standing, but that has never been a major deterrent in the past from being big players in free agency. Seattle appears to fare better, with February estimates putting them at around $80 million on the books.
Ultimately, I think Clabo will be offered a sizable extension by the Falcons and remain here, but if he does manage to go elsewhere, it would not be surprising if it happens to be one of these four teams.