1:04pm: Blalock appears to have confirmed Rapoport’s report, publishing the following statement (TwitLonger link):
“I’d like to sincerely thank the Atlanta Falcons, all my teammates and especially the fans. I’ve had an unbelievable 8 years and only wish I could have helped bring a championship to the ATL.”
Blalock, 31, had been a mainstay at the left guard spot in Atlanta since entering the league in 2007, having started all 125 games he played during his career with the Falcons. The former second-round pick continued to be viewed an above-average guard by Pro Football Focus right up until his release — Blalock received positive grades from the site for each of the last five seasons (subscription required).
For the Falcons, Blalock’s price tag was too high, but it seemed as though the guard would land elsewhere. He paid a visit to the Lions, and the Rams and Titans reportedly had some level of interest in him as well. It’s possible that the alleged interest from those teams never materialized into a formal offer, though Blalock may have simply decided he preferred not to continue his NFL career with a new team.
With Blalock apparently off the market, players like Rob Sims, Dan Connolly, and perhaps newly-released Sam Baker, who has spent most of his career playing tackle, are among the top veteran guards available. Of course, the prize of the group at this point is Evan Mathis, cut by the Eagles last week.
When Blalock makes his decision official, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him re-sign with the Falcons on a one-day contract before calling it a career.