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Verbal mixup aside, Falcons still undecided on Takk McKinley’s fifth-year option

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INDIANAPOLIS — When it comes to fifth-year options being exercised, history has fared well for Falcons players under head coach Dan Quinn. Vic Beasley, a first-round pick in 2015, had his option picked up and exercised for the 2019 season. Keanu Neal, a 2016 first-rounder, had his option picked up with the expectation being that it will be exercised when the time comes.

Takk McKinley, a 2017 first-rounder, could be the first to buck this trend in the Quinn era.

For context, shortly after the 2018 season concluded, the Falcons revealed their intention to pick up Neal’s fifth-year option. Conversely, the team has remained mum on McKinley’s status all offseason.

Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff were asked at the NFL Scouting Combine about McKinley’s standing with the team after the 2020 season.

Dimitroff was asked first about McKinley in a scrum with local reporters.

“We haven’t planned on anything yet,” Dimitroff said. “We’re still talking about it. Those aren’t easy situations as you can imagine. It doesn’t always indicate your fondness for a player. Sometimes it has a lot to do with other situations as you can imagine. We’ve exercised it over the years. We’re big believers in keeping the people we drafted, of course. You can’t make mistakes on that, and we’ll keep our eye on that.”

Dimitroff noted that a recent trend suggests teams aren’t picking up the fifth-year option. In 2019, 12 teams declined to pick up the option, and two released their first-round pick prior to their contract’s expiration. With the New England Patriots forfeiting their 2016 first-round pick because of the Deflategate scandal, the remaining 17 teams exercised the fifth-year option.

Shortly after Dimitroff spoke to reporters, it was Quinn’s turn to hold court with the local media contingency. After McKinley was brought up, Quinn was asked about his status following the 2020 season.

From the interview:

So are you guys close to a decision on picking up his fifth-year option or not, for Takk?

“Yes,” Quinn replied.

So you are going to?


No, you’re not going to?


A few questions later, the topic was brought back up, with Quinn being told that Dimitroff said the team was still deliberating McKinley’s fifth-year option. Quinn then said that Dimitroff’s depiction was accurate and that the team was “still deciding” whether to pick up the option.

About 30 minutes after Quinn’s media availability wrapped up, a team official told The Athletic that Quinn misinterpreted the original line of questioning and that Atlanta’s official stance is that no decision has been made regarding McKinley’s future. NFL clubs have until May 4 to execute the fifth-year option on players taken in the first round of the 2017 draft.

Two years ago, the Falcons elected to execute Beasley’s option and honored it last offseason. While teams execute fifth-year options heading into a player’s fourth season, those agreements guarantee for injury only and can be voided prior to the subsequent league year’s beginning of that player’s fifth year. Last offseason, Atlanta felt it could get Beasley back into 2016 form when he totaled 15.5 sacks en route to helping the franchise reach the Super Bowl.

Considering McKinley is also a pass-rushing defensive end, the situation seems similar, although McKinley has yet to post a season with double-digit sacks.

“In our situation with Vic, we felt strongly that we wanted his pass-rush prowess around for another year,” Dimitroff said. “That was important for us. We decided to go forward with him. He had eight sacks. Would we have liked for him to have 16? Potentially. He has the ability to do it. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there. He obviously played better in the second half of the season.”

Dimitroff said the franchise is hopeful that defensive ends coach/defensive run game coordinator Tosh Lupoi’s addition will help McKinley put forth a strong campaign this coming season. Lupoi was with the Cleveland Browns in 2019 and spent the previous five years at the college level with Alabama. Lupoi’s expertise has long been in the edge-rushing area, which will be needed if the Falcons are to improve upon the 27 sacks they posted in 2019.

While McKinley underwent a second shoulder surgery early this offseason, Quinn is remaining positive about his potential for the 2020 season.

“I think we’re going to get the best version of him,” Quinn said. “He’s really putting out in getting strong. To have a second shoulder surgery, that’s a big deal. You want to make sure you’re going to hit every marker as strongly as he can.”

Said Dimitroff: “I think Takk has really good upside about him. I think if Takk stays healthy, continues to have a coach he works well with, who continues to push him, we’re excited about having Tosh here. I think that’s going to be an important thing for that D-line, as well. We’ll see how he continues to develop.”

McKinley’s standing with the team wasn’t the only news Atlanta’s brass made during its appearance at the scouting combine. Dimitroff revealed that the Falcons will allow tight end Austin Hooper, outside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and offensive lineman Wes Schweitzer to test free agency.

Hooper is coming off his best season, which saw him catch 75 passes for 787 yards and six touchdowns. As perhaps the top free agent at his position, Hooper could command a salary well above $10 million per year in average annual value. Campbell led the Falcons with 129 tackles, which marked the second consecutive season he was able to accomplish that. He also should see some sizable contract offers come his way.

While he began each of the past two seasons in a backup role, Schweitzer was plugged in as a starter in both years because of injuries along the offensive line. While the Falcons are planning to allow these players to hit free agency, Dimitroff said he will keep the lines of communication open with their respective representation.

“In no way does that mean we’re not interested in continuing to negotiate,” Dimitroff said. “It’s just we need to get to the market to help us gauge where we are, being one of the teams that’s right in the spot where we need to be smart about how we approach our salary cap into the future.”



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Torn on this. I worry about the guaranteed option for injury. It locked in Neal, though if he plays all year it’s no loss. He is well worth the $6M. 

On to Takk...
Takks shoulders are worrisome, though even if healthy is he worth $10M? If he gets us 7-10+ sacks this year and plays 15-16 games I would use the 5th year. If he gives us another 3-5 sack year no thanks.

i think of the team drafts a DE (or 2) and signs a good one in FA, we will decline the option due to managing the cap. If we strike out, he will likely get the option. Thankfully FA and draft occur before the option deadline!

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I answered NO when I replied to the “Do I Trust TD” thread last week and this is a big example why. Every year they go out of their way during the draft and FA periods to tell us through the media lies so that their precious draft doesn’t get ruined only for the majority of us to scratch our heads after the draft is over. Couple that it doesn’t even look like the GM and HC were on the same page with this Takk stuff just looks sloppy and unprepared. Bet Takk is looking like WOWWWW.

Imagine hearing your supervisor and you supervisor’s boss being on two different pages initially about the job you use to ensure you put food in your mouth and a roof over your head. You wouldn’t trust them and probably couldn’t wait to leave that Job. 
One  day this TD experiment will be over. 

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3 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

Logic would say why not pick up the option in the event he finally busts out this year.  The only risk is injury...and that likely is the concern.  With Takk’s shoulder injuries, they don’t want to be on the hook like they are with Neal this year 

Takks injuries actually worry me more than Neals do.

 Neal has two unrelated ‘bad luck’ injuries.

Takk has recurring shoulder issues, which are attributed to his play style, so no reason to believe they will magically stop happening. It’s kind of like the dude who keeps getting concussions because he won’t stop lowering his head and trying to kill people.

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2 minutes ago, FalconsIn2012 said:

Logic would say why not pick up the option in the event he finally busts out this year.  The only risk is injury...and that likely is the concern.  With Takk’s shoulder injuries, they don’t want to be on the hook like they are with Neal this year 

I say play the wait and see game with him as well as they should have done with Beasley.

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