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Atlanta Falcons Top Free Agent Targets This Offseason: Part 1 Offensive Line

January 12th, 2014 at 8:15 PM
By Graham Waldrop

The Atlanta Falcons need help.  There's no way around that.  The Falcons are not going to be able to solve all their problems in the draft, and there are issues all over this team.  With the exception of Quarterback, wide receiver, kicker and punter, every other position on the team has holes.  Offensive line, defensive line, linebackers, secondary, tight end, fullback all have question marks surrounding them whether it be due to losing players, health of players or simply a lack of competent personnel.

 

Here are a few free agents that the Falcons could go after to plug some of these holes.  This is not taking into account the draft.  We'll be considering the offensive linemen for this piece.

Brandon Albert, LT, Age 29

Albert has been an absolute beast for the Kansas City Chiefs, and at only age 29, it would be great if the Falcons could land the physical tackle.  However, due to the Falcons having signed LT Sam Baker to a big extension last year, and expect him to be their starting LT next year, it's unclear whether or not the Falcons would entertain talking to Albert.

Either Baker or Albert would have to slide to RT, where the Falcons have tried out pretty much every single offensive lineman on their roster at that position this year.  How comfortable either one of them would be playing RT is unknown.  

Regardless though, Albert is a premium talent known for his physicality, particularly in pass protection, and would be an amazing addition.   

Albert only allowed 4.5 sacks this year and just one sack last year.  He would be a huge improvement over any tackle playing for the Falcons at the moment.  

Albert did miss the last five games of the year, including the postseason, with a knee injury.  It'll be interesting to see whether or not that impacts his market value.  

Charlie Johnson, G/T, Age 29

Along with tackle, the Falcons tried everything at guard.  From the overmatched Garret Reynolds to the perplexed off again, on again center Peter Konz.  Nothing worked at guard for the Falcons this season.  

If the Falcons aren't able to get Brandon Albert, or draft highly touted prospect Cliff Matthews, getting a veteran hybrid guard and tackle could be something to think about.  A player that fits that bill is the Vikings' Charlie Johnson.

Johnson, an eight year veteran started his career with the Colts, where he put up the best numbers of his career.  In two of his first three years, Johnson gave up no sacks.

Over the last three seasons with the Vikings, Johnson has given up 16.5 sacks, which is not a good number.  But in the 2012 season, he only gave up one sack, and last year he gave up 6.5.  So there's no reason to think that he can't put up a solid protection rate this year under the tutelage of Mike Tice.

Johnson, along with his hybrid ability, also provides veteran leadership, which is something this team had none of this year.  The void left by the departure of Todd McClure loomed large over the offensive line's ability not to really gel as a unit.  Adding someone of Johnson's ilk provides an upgrade at guard, and a veteran leader who can still play effectively.  

Johnson may not be the sexy pick in free agency, but he's someone who could definitely get the job done, and fill more than one void for this scuffling O-line.

These are just two good pickups for the offensive line.  Who would you like to see from free agency to join the team?

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Charlie Johnson, Football, NFL

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