Vic Beasley said he would be at the Atlanta Falcons’ mandatory minicamp after sitting out the voluntary OTAs, and when the event began, the defensive end was in the building.
Now, he begins a long and difficult process of getting back to his former production, a process that Dan Quinn said would make Beasley either love or hate the head coach.
For his part, Beasley is confident everything will go the right way.
“There’s no pressure at all,” he said this offseason about his prospects for the season. “I just want to ball out and play my heart out with my teammates.”
Beasley may not feel any pressure about how the coming season will shape up, but the Falcons organization could be forgiven for having some trepidation about how things will turn out.
Back in March, the team picked up the fifth year option on Beasley’s rookie contract, guaranteeing his full $12.8 million salary, rather than offer him a long term contract.
By doing so, the Falcons are essentially giving the player a one year trial period to prove that he can revive his pass rush, or else they could elect to part ways with him after 2019.
Beasley was the Falcons’ No. 8 overall draft pick four years ago, the first selection made by the organization after hiring Quinn as head coach. The former Clemson product led the NFL with 15.5 sacks in the 2016 season when Atlanta won the NFC and played in Super Bowl LI, but over the past two seasons has just 10 combined sacks.
Overall, Beasley’s production rushing the pass has seen a marked decline, inspiring a series of speculations around the NFL rumor mill earlier this offseason that the Falcons would entertain offers from other teams in a prospective trade, or could even cut him from the roster.
In November, reports emerged that a few NFL teams approached the Falcons prior to the trade deadline about orchestrating a deal for Beasley, but the team refused them all.
Atlanta elected to move Beasley from the defensive end position to outside linebacker for much of the 2017 season, but after that move failed to pan out to their satisfaction, moved Beasley back to the defensive line, opposite second year edge rusher Takkarist McKinley.
In 2018, Beasley had a career low 20 tackles, adding five sacks, breaking up three pass attempts, and he returned a fumble recovery for a 74 yard touchdown in a Dec. 2 loss to Baltimore.
The play was the longest recovered fumble in franchise history, and could have been instrumental in the Falcons’ ultimate decision to keep him on for another year.
Now it looks like the Falcons are willing to take one more long, extended look at what Beasley can do now that Quinn has assumed the team’s defensive coordinator position himself after relieving Marquand Manuel of those duties after the 2018 season.