Tagged in: free agent

Falcons won’t offer DE Vic Beasley new deal

The Falcons announced Monday they will not pursue contract negotiations with the defensive end. Beasley is set to become an unrestricted free agent on March 18 when the new league year starts.

“As we continue to craft our 2020 roster, we’d like to thank Vic for five years of effort on behalf of our organization,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said, per the Falcons’ official site.

The decision shouldn’t come as a surprise, though as the team is looking to upgrade its defense ahead of the 2020 campaign. Plus, the former 2015 first-round pick played the 2019 campaign on the fifth-year option of his rookie deal.

In addition to Beasley, Atlanta will need to make decisions on Adrian Clayborn and Jack Crawford, who are also set to become free agents this offseason.

The Falcons finished 31st in the league in sacks, despite Beasley’s eight on the year and the defense’s late-season resurgence.

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Beasley, who was coach Dan Quinn’s first draft pick in 2015, eighth overall, did not show consistency despite leading the NFL with 15.5 sacks in 2016 — the season the Falcons went to the Super Bowl.

Beasley made the Pro Bowl that year but managed just five sacks in each of the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

Although Beasley had eight sacks this past season, 6.5 of those came in the second half of the season.

The Falcons dangled Beasley for a trade before last season’s trade deadline with no takers. Beasley told ESPN the trade talk did not serve as motivation to play better in the second half of 2019.

Now that the Falcons have decided to move on, acquiring a pass-rusher via the draft or free agency becomes even more of a priority this offseason. The Falcons hope to get more production out of another former first-rounder, defensive end Takk McKinley, who is recovering from shoulder surgery.

The Falcons need more pressure off the edges, particular with the Pro Bowler Jarrett creating havoc on the interior of the defensive line.

Penn State’s Yetur Gross-Matos and Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa are just a few of the draft prospects the Falcons might consider to help improve the rush. The Falcons have a new defensive coordinator for 2020 in Raheem Morris.

Beasley finished his time with the Falcons recording 37.5 sacks, 156 tackles and 11 forced fumbles.

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Raiders to pursue Tom Brady if QB becomes free agent

A couple of teams have been named as possible landing spots for Tom Brady in free agency, but one specific team separated itself from the pack on Sunday.

The Las Vegas Raiders are “poised” to pursue Brady if the New England Patriots don’t re-sign him before free agency starts in March, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

It’s unclear at this point if Brady will leave the Patriots, who he has spent his entire 20-year career playing for. 

Owner Robert Kraft recently told TMZ Sports the Patriots “plan to” re-sign Brady.

The 42-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent for the first time when the new league year starts in March.

He still a productive player, throwing for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2019. 

Schefter noted the Patriots are expected to want a decision from Brady before the start of free agency on March 18, but Brady is being “open-minded” about this process with several teams expected to look into signing him.

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The Raiders currently have Derek Carr under contract for three more seasons, but his deal is structured with just $5 million in dead cap for 2020 and $2.5 million in 2021 if they decide to release him. 

Moving from Oakland to Las Vegas would seem to give the Raiders more incentive to land a marquee name who can help sell season tickets and be used to market the team. 

The Raiders also have a solid offensive foundation in place that could appeal to Brady. Running back Josh Jacobs ran for 1,150 yards as a rookie in 2019; Darren Waller’s 1,145 receiving yards ranked second among tight ends (Travis Kelce, 1,229); and Tyrell Williams has blazing speed and averaged 15.5 yards per reception. 

Brady would give the Raiders instant credibility in their new city, not to mention an enormous marketing advantage that could be presented on billboards across Nevada.

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Stephen Strasburg opts out of deal with Nationals

As expected, Washington Nationals right-hander and reigning World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg has opted out of his contract, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand.

The Nationals have not yet established the news. Strasburg is walking away from four years and $100 million. Saturday was the deadline to opt out.

Strasburg, 31, threw a National League leading 209 innings during the regular season, and ended with 3.32 ERA and 251 strikeouts. He then threw another 36 1/3 innings with a 1.98 ERA during Washington’s postseason run, including 8 1/3 innings of two-run ball with the season on the line in World Series Game 6.

The Nationals signed Strasburg to a seven-year extension worth $175 million in May 2016.

The contract included heavy deferrals, as big Nationals contracts often do. Because a dollar today is worth more than a dollar five years from now, the present day value of those four years is much less than $100 million. Strasburg would come out ahead financially simply by re-signing a new four-year, $100 million deal with no deferrals. 

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The Nationals will almost certainly try to re-sign Strasburg, who they selected with the No. 1 overall pick back in 2009. He is the second best starting pitcher on the free agent market behind Gerrit Cole and could command upwards of six years and $150 million this winter, even at age 31 and with injuries throughout his career. That might even be selling him short.

Washington will also try to re-sign third baseman Anthony Rendon this winter. Should they lose Strasburg to free agency — I imagine his hometown Padres will make a big push to sign him — the Nationals would still have Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin to front to the rotation going forward. 

The Nationals will undoubtedly make Strasburg the qualifying offer prior to Monday’s deadline, ensuring they receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.

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