Dec 1, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; Atlanta Falcons center Joe Hawley (61) against the Buffalo Bills at the Rogers Center. Falcons beat the Bills 34 to 31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Rumors: Atlanta Falcons attempting to 'lock up' center Joe Hawley before deadline

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, the Atlanta Falcons chose to “improve from within” by signing long-time defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, and in the midst of other rumors, the team is reportedly negotiating with another in-house contributor. This time, though, it is along the offensive line with center Joe Hawley.

Adam Caplan reports that the team is in negotiations with the 25-year-old Hawley to keep him in Atlanta long-term, and while it may seem like a “fringe” move, it could be important to Atlanta’s ability to build their offensive line. The 6-foot-3, 297-pound Hawley has been a versatile cog for the Falcons, playing at both center and guard over the past four seasons, and while he was simply a backup option earlier in his career, Hawley made 7 starts this season after supplanting incumbent Peter Konz.

Hawley’s value on the open market is up for debate, but the Falcons know that they have (at the very least) a solid utility man who knows their offensive system, and that is an undervalued commodity at times. Look for Hawley to remain in Atlanta on a modest deal, but one that includes a solid raise for the young center.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons Joe Hawley

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