Home > Free Agency, NFL > Transaction Analysis: Harvey Dahl heads to the Rams while Yanda, Joseph, Clabo, Free stay put

Transaction Analysis: Harvey Dahl heads to the Rams while Yanda, Joseph, Clabo, Free stay put

The biggest name lineman to rip out his roots and relocate to another city was Atlanta’s Harvey Dahl, a loss the Atlanta Falcons seemed to be prepared for.

The salary cap situation that the Falcons were in more or less was going to prevent them from making competitive offers to all three of their free agent offensive lineman.  The makeup of their roster would allow them to replace a player like Dahl internally.  But a player like Tyson Clabo, had he walked to become Buffalo’s right tackle, the Falcons would have been forced to go outside the organization to replace him.  So the Falcons fought to match the best offer for Clabo, even though he likely exceeded their budget for his position.  That Clabo contract caused them to put the negations for LG Justin Blalock on the back burner, and they got priced out of the market for Dahl.  Former Alabama OT Mike Johnson will be first in line to play right guard for the Falcons.

The St. Louis Rams won the Harvey Dahl sweepstakes, giving them a force on the interior of their line for power run blocking.  Dahl makes some sense for the Rams because their system under Josh McDaniels will be based on getting the ball out of the quarterback’s hands quickly, and the premium in a system like that is to have guards who can blow open the middle of the defensive line for interior runs.  He makes more sense for them than the man he is replacing, Jacob Bell.  But the Rams by and large do not employ people who are like minded to Dahl on their line, and by the time they retool the entire line into power, man-blocking types, Dahl may be expected to be in decline.  It’s a nice signing for the short term, but its’ a lot of money for a thirty year old guard.

The real winners here are the players, Dahl and Clabo.  The market was not kind to 30 year old players.  Nnamdi Asomugha got relatively devalued by his birthdate. Younger players such as Marshal Yanda and Davin Joseph signed deals that broke the bank for interior linemen.  Doug Free drew interest and got big money from the Cowboys.  Teams paid tons of money to re-up their homegrown linemen, within or even slightly in excess of their positional budgets.

Clabo and Dahl were valued for the success they enjoyed on the field, even at age thirty.  Furthermore, there is ample evidence to believe that the St. Louis Rams, specifically, did not have this aversion to 30 year old players seen on the rest of the market.  They gave a mammoth contract to 31 year old Quentin Mikell at safety.  The philosophy may have simply been to make a big signing on offense and a big signing on defense, future be damned.  But here, the Falcons managed to get a little younger on offense, and managed to retain the cornerstone of their offensive line, and eventually moved to 27 year old Justin Blalock, and his deal got done without much commotion.

Marshal Yanda cost a significant chunk of Baltimore’s cap space, but he was very much in demand by other teams, including the Washington Redskins, and he just didn’t want to leave.  Doug Free was going to be headed to the best offer, and Dallas was unwilling to let him get away, even though it cost them any shot at the FA market.  Davin Joseph wanted to stay with Tampa Bay and Tampa needed to pay someone on their roster, so he did really well to stay.  Dahl ended up being the only guy who needed to leave to obtain the most money or best situation.  And again, there’s hidden benefit for Atlanta: they get younger, while staying predominately home grown.

Breaking up the “bash brothers” on the right side of the Atlanta line is going to hurt the team in the short term: Atlanta’s projection this year from LiveBall Sports will not exceed that of any team in their division except Carolina.  But they also added Ray Edwards at LDE and re-upped Blalock unexpectedly.  Overall, it would be difficult for Falcon fans to be disappointed with the team’s work in free agency.  The Falcons will be in the mix again in 2011 before — according to our projections — they peak as an organization under GM Thomas Dimitroff in 2012.  The best thing you can say about Harvey Dahl’s decision is that, if everything goes right for his Rams, he may not have to wait that long to represent his conference in the Super Bowl.

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