The Atlanta Falcons are displaying the right mindset by making some necessary moves in free agency, signing former Chicago Bears first round draft pick tackle/guard Gabe Carimi to a one-year deal on Feb. 17.
At 25-years-old, this will be Carimi’s third NFL team as he has already spent his three-year career with the the Bears, and more recently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As a Buccaneer, Carimi saw playing time at both the right tackle and right guard positions in 14 games during the 2013 regular season. The Bucs waived Carimi on Feb. 10, and due to the format of his previous contract, the Falcons were able to snag him early before the official start of free agency. Coincidentally, Carimi has shared the field in college as a Wisconsin Badger with two current Falcons: center/guard Peter Konz and fullback Bradie Ewing.
Though this deal was just a one-year contract, this latest move gives me pause. Carimi, a winner of the 2010 Outland Trophy, received a lot of buzz in the 2011 NFL Draft and was considered to be the next great tackle in the league. Instead, he is now dubbed as a major bust. Carimi’s career so far has been full of disappointing injuries and unmet expectations. Carimi’s track record has consisted of knee problems and his inability to protect the quarterback. I thought the idea was to keep Falcons’ Matt Ryan upright, not on his back. So why the heck would Atlanta waste its time looking at this guy in the first place?
I guess one shimmer of hope Atlanta sees in Carimi is that he has the ability to play both tackle and guard, so he could bring some versatility to this struggling offensive line. Another could be that he shares familiarity with Falcons offensive line coach Mike Tice as they worked together during their stint with the Bears in the past.
This is without a doubt the last chance for Carimi. Tice already has his work cut out for him this offseason as he will attempt to coach up a line that let Ryan get bounced around like a pinball in 2013. More power to Tice if he can salvage Carimi’s career, but so far, it remains to be seen.