Friday, March 7, 2014
Falcons should have sights set on Asamoah
By Vaughn McClure
Plenty of speculation will take place from now until NFL free agency actually beings Tuesday after 4 p.m. ET.
From the Atlanta Falcons' perspective, upgrading the lines needs to be the emphasis. In terms of the offensive line, one player makes the most sense to pursue immediately.
The Falcons want to add a big, tough offensive guard, and the Kansas City Chiefs' 6-foot-4, 305-pound Jon Asamoah fits that criteria. Asamoah was drafted by Falcons assistant general manager Scott Pioli when Pioli was the Chiefs' general manager, so there is a natural tie. Immediately after the draft, Pioli raved about Asamoah's versatility as a guard with the ability to play center.
But will Asamoah even reach free agency? NFL Nation Chiefs reporter Adam Teicher wrote about the tough decision Kansas City has in keeping either Asamoah or fellow offensive guard Geoff Schwartz. Asamoah actually lost his starting job to Schwartz late last season after suffering a shoulder injury.
Asamoah, who turns 26 in July, is ranked the third-best guard bound for free agency behind Carolina's Travelle Wharton and Schwartz by Pro Football Focus. He has earned a reputation for his pass blocking, which is key for a Falcons team emphasizing the need to protect Matt Ryan next season. Ryan was the league's most pressured quarterback in 2013.
Instability at the right guard spot sure didn't help Ryan's cause. Garrett Reynolds, who was released Feb. 18, got pushed back way too often after beginning the season as the starter. Reynolds got replaced by Peter Konz, who moved over after losing his starting center spot to Joe Hawley. Konz didn't fare much better at guard. Harland Gunn also got an audition at right guard late in the season.
What the Falcons need is someone who will be a stable force at right guard for years to come. Sure, plugging in an aging veteran could help for next season, but the Falcons have to look well beyond. That's another reason Asamoah makes sense.
It will all come down to the price tag, as with most moves in free agency. The Falcons already committed $7.6 million per season to left guard Justin Blalock. Both Blalock and tackle Sam Baker count $13.71 million against the $133 million cap in 2014.
Asamoah made $1.323 million with the Chiefs last season. Paying him somewhere between $4-5 million per year might be manageable.