NFL Labor Update: O-line could be decimated in free agency

Tyson Clabo (right), Harvey Dahl and Todd McClure and Justin Blalock (Sam Baker not pictured) received kudos from Coach John Madden last season. Clabo, Blalock and Dahl could all be free agents under a new collective bargaining agreement. (Curtis Compton,

Tyson Clabo (right), Harvey Dahl and Todd McClure and Justin Blalock (Sam Baker not pictured) received kudos from Coach John Madden last season. Clabo, Blalock and Dahl could all be free agents under a new collective bargaining agreement. (Curtis Compton,

ESPN is reporting some of the proposed details of a collective bargaining agreement that the league shared with the NFL Owners.

Details of a proposed collective bargaining agreement being pitched to NFL owners Tuesday, according to sources:

• Players get 48 percent of “all revenue.”

• Players’ share will never dip below 46.5 percent, under new formula being negotiated.

• Teams required to spend close to 100 percent of the salary cap.

• Rookie wage scale part of deal but still being “tweaked.”

Four years needed for unrestricted free-agent status. Certain tags will be retained, but still being discussed.

• 18-game regular season designated only as negotiable item and at no point is mandated in deal.

• New 16-game Thursday night TV package beginning in 2012.

• Owners still will get some expense credits that will allow funding for new stadiums.

• Retirees to benefit from improved health care, pension benefits as revenue projected to double to $18 million by 2016.

– ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, John Clayton and Adam Schefter

I highlighted the key proposal for the Falcons, which deals with free agency. If this proposal is ratified by both sides, here is what the Falcons free agency list would look like. The offensive line is the key area.
Justin Blalock, LG, 4 years
Matt Bryant, PK, 9 years
Tyson Clabo, RT, 6 years
Harvey Dahl, RG,  4 years
Brian Finneran, WR, 10 years
*Brent Grimes, CB, 3 years – 1st round tender
Michael Koenen, P, 6 years
Stephen Nicholas, LB, 4 years
Jerious Norwood, RB, 5 years
Michael Peterson, LB, 12 years
*Jason Snelling
, RB, 4 years – 2nd round tender
Eric Weems, WR, 3 years (possibly restricted)

Clabo has started 69 games  since the 2006 season, including all 48 regular-season games under head coach Mike Smith. He went to the Pro Bowl as an alternate last season.

Blalock, a second-round draft pick (39th overall) in 2007, has made 39 starts.

Dahl has made 43 starts over the last three seasons.

If all three leave, center Todd McClure and left tackle Sam Baker would be the lone remaining starters.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has repeatedly stated that the team has planned for restructuring the offensive line.

In 2009, the Falcons drafted Garrett Reynolds in the fifth round. He’s played both guard and tackle. He will likely get a shot to replace Clabo.

In 2010, they drafted guard Mike Johnson in the third round and guard/center Joe Hawley in the fourth round.  The Falcons have also trained tackle Jose Valdez on the practice squad for the last two seasons and re-signed Will Svitek, a tackle by trade who played some tight end in running formations last season.

“We are very mindful of what we are doing along our offensive line,” Dimitroff after the season.

While the offensive line may take a couple of hits, the Falcons could have a clear shot to sign defensive end Ray Edwards.

–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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35 comments Add your comment

Wat Wat Wat

June 21st, 2011
6:33 pm

we got some young guards, but we really need clabo back. He’s a great right tackle and deserves to get paid. Hopefully it will be by us.


June 21st, 2011
6:33 pm


June 21st, 2011
8:24 pm


These are not details! These are bulletized, general talking points.

Hopefully, the details take another month, long enough to minimize the free agency period.

Delbert D.

June 21st, 2011
8:36 pm

So get some other free agents. I’d recommend Green Bay and New England guys.


June 21st, 2011
8:44 pm

Normally, I feel comforted by TD’s certitude. Now, I’m a little bit panicked.

The 16 Thursdays in 2012 are really going to wreak havoc with players’ bodies. Only one bye week cannot compensate for more than one Thursday.

Just me? Anyone else conflicted?


June 21st, 2011
9:26 pm

The Falcons have a strong plan in place for Offensive Line. I think Clabo will be retained. Blalock will go in free agency and because he is a former second round choice, Alanta will receive a compensation pick, most likely a fourth rounder. I think Dahl may be gone as well. The gaurd position is much easier to replace than the tackle position.

BAMA dude

June 21st, 2011
9:41 pm

Mike Johnson was a stud at Bama. I think he would be better than Blalock.


June 21st, 2011
10:03 pm

I’ve heard tell that Weems has already been setting himself with 2 other teams just in case and 1 of them is our dreaded foe in the NFC South. You can believe it or not but I do have some inside information.


June 21st, 2011
10:25 pm

There is no reason to doubt the skills and acumen of TD. He has a handle on the situation and the Mighty Birds of Prey will be fine.


June 21st, 2011
10:40 pm

Clabo has been our most consistent lineman over the past 3 – 4 seasons. We really should lock him up for the long haul. Valdez and Johnson can battle it out for the guard jobs. I think Joe Hawley could use another year playing behind McClure before we let him start. Overall, I am really not concerned unless we let Clabo walk. I like Dahl’s toughness, but toughness can be replaced. Blaylock has been our most INCONSISTENT lineman along with Sam Baker, so I have no issue losing him.

D Money

June 21st, 2011
10:51 pm

This information isn’t anything new. We’ll resign Blalock, Johnson will take over for Dahl. They probably only plan on signing 6 of the 12 listed.


June 22nd, 2011
12:34 am

Great info D-Led. You keep us old school football addicts happy!!


June 22nd, 2011
12:45 am



June 22nd, 2011
6:39 am

Dr Falcon I agreee. Would love to keep our O-line together. But players want free agency for just that reason. Their careers are short and must make the big money the one and only time it is available to them. The players need movement and flexibility in pro football and have negotiated hard over the years to ensure this freedom is preserved. I say, “pick up the check” and we will find some more” big uglies” somewhere else!


June 22nd, 2011
7:22 am

I’ll bet all of those Thursday night games are on NFL TV… only about 10% of NFL fans will ever see these games. NFL owners will not be happy until all games are on their network. Good luck with viewership unless you open NFL Network to cable. Money grubbers.

Better not get cheap on the offensive line or all of that “explosive play” talk is dead before the games begin.

Falcon Bill

June 22nd, 2011
7:40 am

I believe we all know last year when we drafted for o-line depth that we were positioning ourselves for this situation. Of course, we won’t let them all leave. I expect a strong push to re-sign Clabo and maybe Dahl. In my opinion, Blalock is the most expendable and easiest to replace. Some of the backups looked good when given the opportunity last year. We have an outstanding o-line coach, and I expect him to have them ready.

Everybody seems to think that signing Ray Edwards is a done deal. I hope it’s the right move, and I’ll trust the management on this one. I am worried that he’s the weakest link on a great d-line. He’s had an all-world DE on the other side and the Williams boys in the middle. Still, he should be an improvement. Getting Jerry back at 100% is the wild card here.

Falcon Bill

June 22nd, 2011
7:58 am

I’m also a bit worried at OLB. Can we re-sign Nicholas? Should we re-sign Peterson? Can Spoon play 19 games? (Yes, i said 19) We have to be able to cover the 3 and 4 receivers and get pressure. Being a 4-3 team, we don’t use the blitz very much, so we have to have a solid front 4 and the second layer has to cover. We give up a lot of yards and a lot of 20+ yard plays. Guys like Brees, Freeman and Rodgers are hard to get to and harder to bring down. We have to step it up.


June 22nd, 2011
9:09 am

Looks like special teams could be in trouble. Matt Bryant was a good pick up for us. We have to have a good, consistant kicker. Looks like the (surprise) pick Matt Bosher was designed to cover the possibility of replacing the kicker AND/OR punter. Koenen had an off year last year.


June 22nd, 2011
9:15 am

They drafted for this possibility, they’ll be ok. I like Tyson Clabo but if someone gives him a Kevin Schafer type of deal and he’s got to go vaya con dios.


June 22nd, 2011
9:17 am

16 games on the NFL network with the worst overall production in the league if not all of sports…nice.


June 22nd, 2011
9:24 am

The rookie wage scale should help out here. The huge millions paid to unproven players can be used to pay these veterans who have proven that they deserve the big payday. Julio, Akeem and Jaquizz will still get theirs, they will just have to prove that they are as good as we believe they are.


June 22nd, 2011
9:32 am

I think you meant 16 Billion dollars in revenue the Orlando. As a Alabama fan I must say I will pray for Matt Ryan if Micheal is playing LG. He is a very good run blocker, but is quite fond of missing his guy on pass plays. I am sure JP can attest to that.


June 22nd, 2011
9:48 am

Let Blalock go and try and keep Dahl and Clabo. Mike Johnson should be as good or better than Blalock. I wouldn’t mind seeing Baker traded either. The right side of our line is our weakest by far!!!


June 22nd, 2011
10:23 am

I think all of this is irrelevant until the owners can stop being greedy and get a deal done thats fair to all involved. When one does, the dynamics of the league will change and a lot of the things we’ve been discussing will be null and void depending on how a deal is reached. I will say this though. I think once this idiocy is over that some birds wings will be clipped such as 1) Jerious ChickenLegs Norwood 2) Michael Icanblockbutcantreallyusemysizetocatch Jenkins (unless he takes his demotion to Jones) 3) Justin Ilikedhiminrunbutnotpassblocking Blalock 4) Harvey Toughjustaintenough Dahl The others are on the (gotta make it fun right?)


June 22nd, 2011
11:06 am

DLed, I looked at espn NFC south blogger and saw that carolina has a defensive end that would be eligible under new CBA. He has better stats than Edwards. Do you know how the falcons evaluate them athleticly in a side by side comparison and which would be more feasible to sign?


June 22nd, 2011
12:36 pm

Where’s Brian Williams? Isn’t he a UFA as well?


June 22nd, 2011
12:39 pm

Our two restricted guys: Grimes and Weems, need to be signed to longer contracts immediately. Both have shown that they have the talent and both should only improve in the coming years.
Also, I’ve heard some people talking about using the franchise tag on Clabo. DOL, will that still be possible after the new CBA is signed?

Section 108

June 22nd, 2011
12:41 pm

Minnesota fans are saying that the Falcons could not go after Ray Edwards because we would have to give up our 2012 1st round pick, which we already gave away for J. Jones. Is that true???


June 22nd, 2011
1:36 pm

Need to resign Clabo. He’s been very solid, consistent, healthy, and productive.
Let Blaylock go. Mike Johnson from Bama is ready to take his spot.
Not sure about Dahl. Are any of the backups capable of filling his spot? I don’t know.

DJ Sniper

June 22nd, 2011
1:47 pm

Section108, Ray Edwards has 5 years under his belt, so under this proposed CBA, he would be an unresricted FA and could sign with whoever he wants.


June 22nd, 2011
2:34 pm

All last season, all I heard was how undersized out O line was. Maybe we need to let some of them go?


June 22nd, 2011
3:27 pm

@section 108 Come on…that makes as much sense as paying for a dollar. How can you give up tender on a FREE AGENT?!!! Common sense always prevails….

Brain Trust

June 22nd, 2011
9:06 pm

Looking at the way our defence was decimated by the Packers,I don’t think I can handle another decimation lest I also suffer decimatia….. Just a thought!

Horn Fan Extraordinaire

June 23rd, 2011
10:27 am

This is incorrect. Blalock has started all but two games in 4 years. By my calculations, that is more than 39 games. Check the stats. Also, after he blocked his man, he spent much of his time trying to clean up what Baker couldn’t handle!


June 24th, 2011
9:14 am

where can i go to get the whole list of free agent all teams