The Atlanta Falcons re-signed free agent left tackle Sam Baker late on Tuesday to a six-year contract, plugging another potential hole on their roster.
Terms of the deal were not immediately known.
According to Stats LLC, Baker allowed only 3.5 sacks during the 2012 season, which was by far the lowest rate of his career. Since the Falcons took him in the first round in 2008 out of USC, he has played on four playoff teams, starting 58 of the 67 games in which he has played.
Last season was the healthiest and – Baker agreed – the best of his pro career, as he has been beset by back, elbow and other injuries.
Since Baker joined the Falcons as a first-round pick in 2008, the offensive line has had almost no turnover and has been a key to the success of quarterback Matt Ryan and, formerly, running back Michael Turner. Right guard Harvey Dahl’s departure via free agency to St. Louis in 2011 was a rare example.
Now, it seems the Falcons will change another piece, as 14-year center Todd McClure, who does not have a contract, could be forced into retirement. Last year’s second-round pick Peter Konz, who played center in college but right guard last season, appears poised to take over McClure’s spot.
That would appear to make Garrett Reynolds the heir apparent at right guard. Reynolds has started 13 games at that position over the 2011 and ’12 seasons. Left guard Justin Blalock and right tackle Tyson Clabo have started every game since 2008.
The Falcons’ final remaining free agent of note is cornerback Brent Grimes. However, the free-agent pool is flooded with cornerbacks to the Falcons could choose to go in another direction, especially since Grimes is coming off a tear of his Achilles’ tendon.