The Atlanta Falcons announced Monday they will not pursue negotiations with outside linebacker Vic Beasley, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 18.
"As we continue to craft our 2020 roster, we'd like to thank Vic for five years of effort on behalf of our organization," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said.
The Falcons selected Beasley, 27, with the No. 8-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and he played the 2019 season on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal. Improving the pass rush has been on Atlanta's agenda in recent offseasons, and the decision to part ways with Beasley makes that a clear priority.
After leading the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2016, Beasley recorded five sacks in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and he looked to be on pace for another five-sack season before a four-sack flurry in the final four weeks gave him eight for the year.
Beasley started 60 games for the Falcons during his five years with the team. He finished his time in Atlanta with 156 tackles, 37.5 sacks, 36 tackles for a loss, 11 forced fumbles and two touchdowns.
With Beasley no longer in the plans, the Falcons are in need of another primary pass rusher to play opposite of Takk McKinley. In addition to Beasley, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and defensive tackle Jack Crawford – two other rush options for Atlanta – are scheduled to become free agents.
Atlanta registered 28 sacks last season, which were the second-fewest in the NFL, but 21 of those sacks came during the final eight games. Beasley's eight sacks led all Falcons defenders, but defensive tackle Grady Jarrett finished with 7.5 on the season and emerged as an elite interior disruptor.
There are some good role players like Allen Bailey and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner still on the Falcons' roster, but Jarrett and McKinley are the remaining foundation of the team's pass rush. It's expected that the team will seek to bolster its pass rush in free agency or the draft.
Quality pass rushers can command a high dollar price on the open market, but the Falcons have said they are willing to get creative with the salary cap. Atlanta currently holds the No. 16 pick in the NFL Draft and has three picks in the first two rounds, giving them a variety of options depending on the team's approach.
Take a look at the best images of OLB Vic Beasley, Jr from the 2019 season.