It made sense with a new head coach in Dan Quinn, fresh off his tenure as the overseer of the physical Seattle Seahawks defenses for two seasons. It made sense for the first draft pick in Quinn’s regime as Atlanta Falcons head coach to be an edge rusher that was known for his speed and the ability to get after the quarterback.
Fast forward four years later, the Falcons and four-year veteran edge rusher Vic Beasley Jr. stand at a crossroads. Thanks to the Falcons picking up Beasley’s fifth-year option back in April of 2018, the team now has to decided whether or not to pay Beasley $12.8 million dollars after totaling just 29.5 sacks in his four seasons of work. Some may look at that sack figure as “progress” but 15.5 of those sacks came in his sophomore season in 2016 and Beasley is fresh off back-to-back five sack seasons in 2017 and 2018. To take it a step further, he also totaled 13 quarterback hits in 30 games played the last two seasons. Yeah, that’s not good.
For what it’s worth, the Falcons have talked about wanting to keep Beasley around, and we here at The Falcoholic expect they’ll try to do that. If they can’t come to an agreement, though, Beasley could be playing elsewhere next year.
So let’s observe the situation under our imaginary microscope and explore what options may be presented if the team decides to part with the former Clemson Tiger.
Talent Aplenty In The NFL Draft
A number of fans have already expressed their displeasure with the team selecting a prospect at the defensive end position in the first round. Based on partially because of the lackluster play of Beasley recently. My question to those individuals is: Is every prospect going to be unfairly compared to Beasley when coming from the collegiate ranks?
Sitting at 14th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Falcons can possibly have elite talent available that can elevate their defensive line after a below average season. Prospects such as Florida’s Jachai Polite, Florida State’s Brian Burns, and Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat could be at the Falcons disposal when it is their time to select. If the team preferred to choose a prospect on Day 2 of the draft, names such as Louisiana Tech’s Jaylon Ferguson, Michigan’s Chase Winovich, and Boston College’s Zach Allen stand out. For the Falcons to have a possible need at edge rusher, this upcoming draft provides a reliable source of athletic pass rushers that bring a distinct skill set to the team.
Pool Of Free Agency
The releasing of Beasley and possibly a few other veterans on the Falcons can open up the cap space where the team can make a significant signing or two.
Let me make things clear when I say that there should be a level of expectation with a hint of reality when it comes to possible free agency signings for the Falcons. Swinging for the moon and big headlines are not in their crosshairs. So players such as DeMarcus Lawrence and Jadeveon Clowney are out of this conversation.
Focusing elsewhere, pass rushers such as Kansas City’s Dee Ford, Philadelphia’s Brandon Graham, and Baltimore’s ZaDarius Smith can provide established veterans who have shown more than adequate ability to be a weapon in getting after the quarterback. Most importantly, the Falcons will not have to break the bank to acquire those players, though Ford will likely be costlier.
What is somewhat unique about this particular scenario for the Falcons is that they may very well engage in both alternatives to upgrade a pass rush that was tied for 22nd in sacks with just 37. I’m not necessarily calling for the Falcons to do away with Beasley for good. But after just four seasons in the Red and Black, Beasley has been underwhelming to say the least and financially, a sound decision could be made to save the team millions. Expect it to be an interesting offseason.