Tyson Clabo Released: Atlanta Falcons Offensive Line Youth Movement Has Begun
Long time Atlanta Falcons right tackle Tyson Clabo was released on April 4, 2013 according to the team's official website. He was cut as part of the youth movement for the offensive line and for cap savings.
The move saved $4.5 million that will be available after June 2nd for rookie contracts to be signed. However, there is still another $2.5-$3 million that could be getting used by the time the draft rolls around for a move or two.
It wouldn't be surprising to see the Falcons "neglect" what would be considered a need at right tackle with Clabo gone as well. All in all though, this move has a ton to do with moving towards a younger, more athletic offensive line than what was on the field in 2012.
Part of the move behind cutting Clabo would be related to the theory of 150—ESPN's John Clayton's theory about NFL offensive lines needing to be under a combined age of 150. The Falcons' starting offensive line's combined age in 2012 was 144 years old.
However, with everyone getting a year older the Falcons were going to be forced to get younger. This year, expect 24-year-old players Joe Hawley, Peter Konz and Lamar Holmes to work well as the right side of the line. It would also bring the Falcons' starting offensive line's combined age to just 129 years old.
With veterans Sam Baker at 28 and Justin Blalock at 29, the overall mileage on the line would be pretty low. They would also be able to stick together for at least another four years bringing a long term consistency that offensive lines need—especially as franchise quarterbacks like Matt Ryan hit their prime.
The move to get rid of Clabo freeing up $4.5 million has been suggested as one that could mean the Falcons are bringing in another big name. However, I find it unlikely. It will most likely be done for long term cap flexibility and the likelihood of the Falcons making a move for say, Darrelle Revis is between slim and none.
The Falcons could fiscally afford it, but it's just not a logical fit for Atlanta to do something like bring in Revis unless his market completely sours, and Atlanta can get him for a second-round pick in the 2014 draft and a reasonable contract.
Right tackle isn't a need, despite Clabo's release
Tyson Clabo has been the only man to play right tackle for the Falcons in each of the last five seasons. However, with his release, the Falcons still don't need to go out and bring in a replacement for the massive Wake Forest graduate.
Who will replace Clabo?
In 2010, the Falcons took Mike Johnson out of Alabama. He played left guard, left tackle and right tackle for the Crimson Tide. The former third rounder has size, strength and speed and was the swing tackle for Atlanta in the 2012 season.
In 2012, the Falcons took a project named Lamar Holmes out of Southern Mississippi. The difference here is that Holmes is a true beast of a man similar to Clabo at 6'6" and 323 pounds. Holmes has really good footwork and experience on both sides of the line in college.
The question here is, with a pair of talented players like Johnson and Holmes, do the Falcons really even need a tackle?
No. Not a starting one at least. Garrett Reynolds is a great long term fit for depth at right guard and right tackle and whoever loses between Holmes and Johnson can backup both spots on the left side. But overall, the Falcons don't need to bring in any offensive tackle talent with how crowded the field is already there.
Who is the projected starting line at this time?
Left Tackle Sam Baker, 6'5", 307 pounds, age 28 on opening day
Sam Baker has been the starting left tackle on opening day every since 2009. Expect him to keep this role after re-signing with the Falcons for six years this offseason. If he can show improvement from last season, Baker could go from pariah to Pro Bowl player in a two-year span.
Left Guard Justin Blalock, 6'4", 329 pounds, age 29 on opening day
Justin Blalock is the ole reliable of the line. Despite being in the league for six years already, Blalock has missed a total of just two games for the Falcons. He and Baker have excellent chemistry in the passing game and showed higher proficiency in the run game in 2012.
Center Joe Hawley, 6'3", 297 pounds, age 24 on opening day
This may come as a shock, but Joe Hawley was drafted at the ripe old age of 21 in 2010 to be Todd McClure's long term replacement. After spending three years behind the Mud Duck, it's time for Hawley to prove his worth this season in the center of the line.
Right Guard Peter Konz, 6'5", 315 pounds, age 24 on opening day
Peter Konz was a very good rookie in 2012 and improved every game. While he had a poor game late in the year versus Ndamukong Suh, that should be expected as a rookie. He should spend more time this offseason training up his strength and his quickness has shown to be a true asset on screens.
Right Tackle Lamar Holmes, 6'6", 323 pounds, age 24 on opening day
Lamar Holmes is a beast of a man who was a captain at Southern Mississippi for his hard work. On the Falcons offensive line, he will be expected to keep it up. His length and strength is very similar to that of Clabo, but he's much quicker off of the snap and when dropping back in pass protection.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs the NFL Draft Website ScarDraft.com.
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