Atlanta Falcons defensive end Vic Beasley has a lot to play for in 2018. He’s entering the fourth year of his rookie deal. The Falcons have the option to extend him or pick up his fifth year option at a cost of $14.2 million. (The latter option would make him one of the highest paid 4-3 defensive ends in the league.) If he can come close to replicating his production in 2016, there’s no doubt he will receive a substantial raise in 2019, one way or another.
Beasley was on the air with 92.9’s Rick and John yesterday. The interview is just over 10 minutes long and well worth a listen. He talks about why he agreed to transition to LB last season (spoiler alert: he’s a team-first guy), moving on from Dontari Poe/Adrian Clayborn, and his expectations for 2018. But I want to call your attention to perhaps the most important tidbit from the interview: Beasley confirmed his days playing linebacker are over.
“I’m comfortable wherever the coaches need me,” said Beasley. “I apply my versatility to help the team in so many ways, but I know that Coach understands and he sees that my best fit is at defensive end. That’s where I can benefit the team most.”
Head coach Dan Quinn told us this was happening back in January, so it isn’t exactly breaking news. But it does appear nothing has changed since January.
It’s important to remember why Beasley was moved from LEO to SAM. It was a move born out of necessity, even if the team didn’t want to admit that at the time. They talked about SAM providing more opportunities for Beasley to play in space, as if the move was solely for his benefit. In reality the team wasn’t content with their options at SAM and threw Beasley in the mix.
The move to SAM was experimental, but it also solidified the linebacker corps. And the bottom line is this: the team needed him to make the move, so he made the move, arguably leading to a drop in production. He did all this no questions asked. So now, in a way, it’s his turn. He has substantial motivation to perform well in 2018, and at this point, there’s simply no reason to doubt his ability to do just that.