The Atlanta Falcons quietly have been dealing with a messy situation in the center of their offensive line.
Per a league source, long-time starting center Todd McClure has been boycotting offseason workouts. We’re told that he is contemplating retiring or holding out if he doesn’t get a new contract.
Per NFLPA records, McClure is under contract for three more seasons, at salaries of $1.4 million in 2009, $1.6 million in 2010, and $1.7 million in 2011.
We’re also told that the Falcons aren’t inclined to give him a new deal, and that they’ll commence the process of searching for potential replacements by kicking the tires on Jeremy Newberry, an 11-year veteran (and two-time Pro Bowler) who appeared in 16 games with the Chargers last season, starting three.
After missing all of the 2006 season due to microfracture surgery in his knee, Newberry started 14 games for the Raiders in 2007.
McClure joined the Falcons as a seventh-round pick in 1999. He has started every game since 2002 and started 15 in 2001.
If the Falcons intend to not call McClure’s bluff, the alternatives are limited. Beyond Newberry, the list of available veteran centers includes Melvin Folwer, Eric Giachiuc, Matt Lehr, and Cory Withrow.