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Why keeping Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary together was key for Falcons offseason

The Falcons signed Lindstrom to a contract extension and brought McGary back on a three-year deal

ATLANTA – There was little doubt Chris Lindstrom would remain a Falcon. He wanted to stay in Atlanta and the front office was willing to put forth the commitment required to lock the right guard up a year before his contract expired.

That led to an expected announcement that Lindstrom would be around long-term just before 2023 NFL free agency began.

When the new league year kicked off, Kaleb McGary became a free agent. That created a level of uncertainty whether the 2019 first-round NFL draft picks would keep working together after four seasons manning the offensive line's right flank.


McGary was fresh off a breakout year and was expected to have suitors on the open market. It took some time to work things out, but McGary eventually decided to stick around on a three-year contract.

In his first public comments since signing his new deal, McGary said he was happy to remain a Falcon.

"There were a number of good conversations had, but I think I ended up in the right spot," McGary said. "I know how many teams were involved at the very end, but me and my agent felt like this was the right place for the money I was going to get. I think it was the right thing.

"This is where I have most of my experience. I have done tons of work with Chris and this offense. This is where the majority of experience is and it was easiest to stay. And I didn't have to move."

That also allows Lindstrom and McGary to keep a good thing going. They've been playing together for four years and could have as many as three more. That's a good thing for this pair, which played so well in 2023.

"I was fortunate that Kaleb was able to come in with me in 2019," Lindstrom said. "After I got signed and I knew I was going to be here for a while, and -- Kaleb is my partner. You have your friend and your teammate, and you want him to be on the field with him. It's exciting that he has returned because we have thousands of reps working together. The communication level is high, and we work well together. It's great that he's back.

"You know each other's strengths and weaknesses, and you know how to work together. How to fit blocks is such a learning curve, so I'm really glad to keep working with him."

Lindstrom was the NFL's highest-rate run-blocking guard in 2023, per analytics site Pro Football Focus. McGary was second in that category, among tackles in the NFL. The entire line was fourth in pass blocking efficiency, which rates pass protection with weight placed on sacks allowed.

Lindstrom was the highest-rated guard in the NFL. McGary was the No. 4 overall tackle in terms of blocking.

Getting those two back together keeps the line's right side strong. And considering how much experience playing together, that will help the offense as a whole in a good space.

Lindstrom selfishly wanted McGary to come back, but wanted him to get paid well, too. That ended up happening, which was good news for all involved. Just because they've performed well before doesn't mean this pairing isn't striving to get better. McGary said they have no intention on resting on last year's performance.

"The same old song and dance, man," McGary said. "This may be a boring answer but it's accurate. The answer is everything. We have to be better across the board, in every area. If you start to think you're good enough, you'll start going downhill."

Take a look at the Atlanta Falcons in action during the 2023 First Look practice at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

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