The Falcons have been one of the most active teams when it comes to cutting players early on this offseason, and they appear to be far from done. Robert Alford, Brian Poole, Brooks Reed, and Matt Bryant are the most notable names that will not be returning to Atlanta. But one player that has not been talked about much is Vic Beasley.
After back-to-back wildly disappointing campaigns, there is no questioning that Beasley was a potential cap casualty heading into this offseason. His fifth-year option schedules to pay him nearly $13 million in 2019, and to say it nicely, he’s been worth nothing close to that these past two years. The Falcons can cut him for nothing before the start of the new season (March 13th), but there has not been anything from the organization that indicates they are thinking about doing so.
When asked on Wednesday about the contracts of Grady Jarrett, Julio Jones, and Vic Beasley Jr., Quinn said that he did not have any updates on their situations and that he will have some more information at the combine.
#Falcons coach Dan Quinn did not have any updates on Julio Jones, Grady Jarrett or Vic Beasley. Said he'll have some updates at the combine. He's set to speak next Wednesday from Indianapolis.
— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) February 20, 2019
Maybe that means – between now and then – the Falcons will decide on Beasley’s fate. But as the days go by, it becomes more and more likely Atlanta will hang onto Beasley in the 2019 season.
Jeff Schultz, a beat writer for the Athletic, has said several times this offseason that Atlanta will not be releasing Beasley. Instead, they will be restructuring his contract at a lower number.
Beasley not coming in at $12.8. He'll be redone at lower price. https://t.co/UMZBnOmoVI
— Jeff Schultz (@JeffSchultzATL) February 20, 2019
It’s unknown if this is from sources or just speculation, but it’s safe to say Schultz is a pretty plugged-in guy to the Falcons organization. I’m not entirely sold on the Falcons keeping Beasley, but outside of him, Steven Means and Takk McKinley are the only other defensive ends on the roster. That’s not exactly a position the organization wants to be in either.
Which leads to the question: What does a contract restructure look like that is appealing to both the Falcons and Beasley?
To do that, you have to look at what other players at his position are currently making. The $12.81 million Beasley is scheduled to make next season would put him at a higher number than Carlos Dunlap and a smidge lower than Cameron Jordan. There’s no questioning Beasley is not comparable to either of those two players, so if he were to hit free agency, it’s doubtful he would get a deal that pays him that much – even with the rise in the salary cap.
By production, Beasley has put up similar numbers to Alex Okafor, and that may be generous. Okafor opted out of the final year of his deal with the Saints and is set to hit free agency. However, Okafor was set to make less than $2 million in 2019 if he didn’t opt out. He will surely get a raise, perhaps somewhere in the $6 million range.
The Falcons would love to bring Beasley back at a number around $6 million, but that’s not taking into account Beasley’s name value, which is far more impressive than his actual worth. Beasley is an unbelievable physical specimen. On the surface, it looks like he eats quarterbacks for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And there are organizations out there that remember his spectacular 15.5 sack campaign back in 2016.
Those two things alone will result in Beasley getting overpaid if he hits the market, so if the Falcons want to keep him, they are going to have to come up from the $6 million his production has been worth over the last two seasons. Atlanta is going to have to offer at least $8 million, maybe even $9 million, to retain Beasley.
That would still be a massive overpay for what he has produced, but given his potential market, and the fact that the Falcons are beyond thin at the defensive end position; saving $3-4 million while restructuring his contract may be the best way to go. It’s an intriguing situation to monitor because there is no way the Falcons can justify bringing him back at his current number, and players are not thrilled to hear the words “pay cut.”