The Falcons need to add pass rushing talent this offseason. Letting Vic Beasley leave in free agency only puts more pressure on Atlanta’s front office.
Vic Beasley’s inconsistent play has frustrated the Falcons ever since they spent a first round pick to acquire him. Evidently, the higher-ups in Atlanta have finally decided the headache isn’t worth the on-field production.
According to ESPN, and the team itself, the Falcons have already broken off negotiations with the talented edge rusher. That means he’ll leave the team via free agency this offseason.
That’s a bitter pill to swallow for Falcons fans considering just how much trouble they had getting to the quarterback in 2019.
In fairness to Atlanta’s front office, it’s likely that Beasley is looking to get paid like a Pro Bowl edge rusher. He’s only played up to that level during one of his five seasons as a pro. Tallying 15.5 sacks in 2016 caused many Falcons fans to believe they’d found one of the most dominant defense ends in the NFL.
While the Falcons may have made the right decision when it comes to Beasley’s financial value, there’s no doubt they made their football team worse in the short-term. He was the team’s leading sack artist last year with a total of eight. The next closest edge rusher for last year’s team was Adrian Clayborn who only managed to get to the quarterback four times. Clayborn is also slated to hit free agency, but the decision to let Beasley walk makes it almost a certainty that Clayborn will return to the Falcons on a reasonable deal in 2020.
The challenge for the team’s front office now is to replace Beasley’s production at a lower salary cap number. That almost certainly means the Falcons will need to spend a high draft pick on an edge rusher. The trouble with that reality is that Atlanta also needs to spend significant resources on secondary upgrades this offseason. Having two such high-profile needs to fill may be more than the Falcons’ front office can reasonably accomplish in a single offseason.
The Falcons are smart not to overpay Beasley in free agency, but it’s a decision that will haunt them in the short-term. The only way this really works out for Atlanta is if they can hit on a superior player in the draft. The team’s struggles to accurately evaluate Beasley demonstrate exactly how big a gamble that is for Atlanta.