The Atlanta Falcons gambled with their lone restricted free agent, leaving open the possibility of losing a valuable contributor from last season.
A source with knowledge of the situation confirmed Saturday that cornerback Robert McClain received an original-round tender of $1.431 million. The amount would represent McClain’s salary with the Falcons for the 2014 season.
However, McClain is likely to draw some interest around the league. If he signs an offer sheet elsewhere and the Falcons decline to match, the Falcons would receive just a seventh-round pick -- the round McClain was drafted in -- as compensation.
McClain was the Falcons’ nickelback last season and also assumed the punt-return duties. He had 64 tackles, a sack, and five passes defensed while playing 52 percent of the defensive snaps.
Indianapolis and New England are a couple teams that might show interest in McClain. The Colts have a pipeline to McClain’s alma mater, Connecticut, with four players from the school on the roster. The Patriots are familiar with McClain from his days with the Huskies.
From the Falcons’ perspective, they wouldn’t mind having McClain in the fold but are looking to upgrade at the nickelback spot, too. There is a strong possibility they will look into adding recently released veteran Champ Bailey if Bailey is willing to play nickelback. Bailey is a Georgia native.