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ESPN Reveals Why Falcons didn’t use Franchise Tag on Kaleb McGary

The Atlanta Falcons made a big decision this week when they didn’t use the franchise tag on offensive tackle Kaleb McGary.

It’s the second time the Falcons have declined to keep McGary on a one-year contract. Last year, they declined the fifth-year option on his contract allowing him to become a free agent in 2023.

The decision not to pick up McGary’s fifth year option was a good one at the time. McGary was poor his first three years in the league before having a breakout season last year under Arthur Smith.

There was little chatter about an extension for McGary during the season, and he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.

Seth Walder of ESPN Analytics compiled a list of the most overrated and underrated free agents at every position, and he lists McGary as the most overrated offensive tackle.

There’s no way I’m paying up for a tackle whose weakness is pass protection. McGary’s 85% pass block win rate ranked 47th out of 64 qualifying tackles this year, and that was the best number of his career. There’s disagreement about his run blocking — PFF graded him as one of the best run-blocking tackles, while his run block win rate (68%) was one of the worst. But even if it is a strength, pass protection is a tackle’s more important function and shouldn’t be sacrificed in a player who costs real money in free agency. — Seth Walder, ESPN

PFF ranked McGary the No. 4 offensive tackle in all of football last year, mostly because of his run blocking.

No team ran the ball more often than the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons aren’t concerned with how he fits in other systems. He was a round peg in a round hole for Arthur Smith and his run-heavy attack.

If the Falcons re-sign McGary, they may be able to do it at a significant discount compared to the franchise tag which would have cost the Falcons $18.2 million in 2023.

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Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at Scout.com, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.

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