Good news on a Monday morning for Atlanta.
It’s fair to say that our collective concern level about the right tackle position has risen in recent days, given that the competition at the position appeared to be heating up between rookie Jalen Mayfield and veteran journeyman Willie Beavers, who ran with the first team offensive line in Saturday’s practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Happily, we’re welcoming back Kaleb McGary today. The Falcons announced a series of moves this morning, with McGary re-joining the team off the physically unable to perform list, Willie Wright coming off of the reserve/COVID-19 list, running back D’Onta Foreman joining up as a free agent and Deadrin Senat officially being waived with an injured designation. The team also opened up one more roster spot by cutting cornerback Tyler Hall, who was fighting for a spot on the roster as a special teamer and deep reserve.
McGary’s obviously the headliner here. The full-time starter at right tackle during each of his first two seasons in the league, McGary has been somewhat up-and-down from a game-to-game perspective but quite solid overall. He’s the obvious favorite to go into the year as the team’s starting right tackle and will likely get some preseason time to compete for that job, but I’d expect him to win it if he’s healthy enough to be 100% for the start of the season. Whether that means Mayfield goes back to competing at left guard this deep in the summer or winds up being McGary’s direct backup remains to be seen, and Beavers will certainly be in the mix as a reserve tackle as well. The depth chart and the playing time against the Titans will help us make sense of where Arthur Smith and company want to take this battle.
The other big news here is Foreman. He’s a player who was easy to link to this Falcons team as soon as they hired Arthur Smith, given that he overlapped with the new head coach in Tennessee and has the kind of physical running style Smith favors, and now he’s finally in Atlanta. Foreman may just be here for the team to take a closer look at and chew up some preseason carries, but it’s also possible he’ll be pushing Qadree Ollison, Javian Hawkins and Caleb Huntley for a roster spot. He’s still young enough and talented enough to be an asset for this team as a reserve, so again, we’ll see how his preseason here goes.
Wright is going to be pushing for a reserve spot on the offensive line and is, given the likelihood that Mayfield and fellow rookie Drew Dalman make the roster and the additional time some of his teammates got with this coaching staff during his stint on the reserve/COVID-19 list, somewhat of a longshot to make it. He’ll need to impress during what’s likely to be extended time on the field during preseason to force his way onto the 53 man roster.
Hall was a player I was interested in last year after he showed some special teams promise, but the changing coaching staff and a ton of additions at the cornerback position meant he was facing an uphill battle for a roster spot. We’ll wish him well at his next landing spot.
Senat we covered yesterday when the news was reported elsewhere. He’s a 2022 free agent and there’s a chance he’ll return to Atlanta, but we’ll have to see how the team’s seemingly solid defensive line depth stacks up in 2021. We wish him well on his recovery.
That’s your morning flurry of Falcons moves. How are you feeling about them?