We’re back at it today with our second roundtable answering your questions about the Falcons. Today’s question is one that’s been on everybody’s mind, and it comes to us courtesy of reader tzig111.
Tzig111 wants to know, “Why in the hell did we bring Beasley back, and why did we not draft any DL until the fourth round?” Our writers’ perspectives on that are below.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ - Matt
I think the Falcons couldn’t stomach letting a guy with Vic’s ceiling walk after investing such a high pick in him. Is this the right decision? We’ll see. I’m hopeful that with Dan Quinn’s new focus on the defense as the de facto coordinator, he’ll take a more proactive approach to helping Vic develop a more effective pass rushing article. We know Vic CAN do it. He has the tools, and though his 2016 numbers are a bit skewed thanks to a couple of big impact games, he still did tear it up that season. And if it helps ease your mind at all, Vic looks like he’s bulked up over this offseason. Here’s hoping that whatever training he’s undertaking will make a difference.
This is a make-or-break year for Vic, as well as for Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff, so they’re going to be motivated to get the best out of Beasley. I’m still surprised that the Falcons waited until the fourth round of the draft to select a DE, but John Cominsky has a ton of athleticism and potential. Hopefully he’ll exceed his draft status for Atlanta. - Jeanna
Why did the Falcons bring back Vic Beasley, you ask? I don’t know. Vic (somehow) led the league in sacks during the 2016 season, with 15.5 sacks. Combining his other three seasons in Atlanta, he has a total of 14.0 sacks. The team elected to keep him and allow the $12.8 million cap hit for 2019. What frustrates me is the team seeing that as a good move, but they decided the 8th most accurate kicker in NFL history, Matt “Money” Bryant’s $2.45 million cap hit was too rich. All we can do is hope that the reason for keeping Vic around is they saw something none of us have, and the move wasn’t ego driven to prevent admitting to a mistake. As to why we didn’t take a defensive lineman until round 4; I would say the Falcons probably didn’t value what was available when they were selecting. Peter King reported that the Falcons tried to trade up to the 10th spot, likely to select Christian Wilkins. I assume the draft just didn’t fall as they expected, so when making a decision, they already had their “guys” in mind. Great question’s though, tzig111! - Evan Birchfield
I think the Falcons brought Beasley back because neither TD or Quinn wanted to give up on the first pick of their regime. Is that a good reason to hold onto a player who hasn’t been productive in years? Not really, but that’s all we have to go off. Beasley showed that he could be a dangerous pass rusher with a legitimately great season in 2016. Based on sample size (three mediocre seasons to one great one), however, we shouldn’t expect him to replicate that success. This is basically Quinn giving Beasley one last shot to prove he belongs, because Vic is still a young player with tremendous potential. On that same note, Atlanta clearly believes in Takk (which I think is justified) and Beasley (which is not) as their starting duo—which is why they didn’t view EDGE as a priority in the draft. Hopefully the addition of Adrian Clayborn (and possibly another veteran with the loss of Steven Means) can give the Falcons a more reliable rotation than they had in 2018, but I’d be shocked if this pass rush is better than average this season. — Kevin Knight
Your guess is as good as mine. Beasley’s return was quite shocking in its opening stanza, but the melody sounded the same once it got going. The Falcons are going to hang on to their guys until they can’t, and the team has never traditionally invested at the edge position in free agency. Beasley’s 2016 season continues to be the standard the team must think he can meet again, and they were willing to pay him top dollar for him to get there. Whether that’s a good decision or not can’t be answered totally right now — that’s for the fall to decide. The lack of draft resources irked me, but they clearly wanted to focus on the offensive line first. John Cominsky might be a diamond in the rough, but we’ll have to see how he does. I’m nervous about the edge position as a whole, and the offseason didn’t do a lot to dissuade that outside of bringing back Adrian Clayborn. We’ll see if the team’s patience with its current roster (Takk McKinley included) pays off. Dan Quinn’s shift to full-time defensive coordinating absolutely impacts this, though. — Cory Woodroof