Falcons pick up option on Vic Beasley Jr., league sacks leader in 2016

The Atlanta Falcons picked up the fifth-year option for defensive end Vic Beasley Jr., the eighth pick in the 2015 NFL draft.

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the team planned to pick up Beasley’s option all along. Beasley’s contract now runs through 2019, when he’ll be scheduled to make around $14.2 million. He has a base salary of $705,000 for the 2018 season.

Beasley led the league with 15.5 sacks in 2016, when the Falcons made their run to the Super Bowl before falling to the New England Patriots. Beasley’s production dropped to five sacks last season as he missed two games due to a hamstring injury and had to adjust to playing more as the strongside linebacker.

The Falcons plan to play Beasley strictly at defensive end moving forward so he can focus on pressuring quarterbacks. He is part of a young core of defenders the coaches are counting on.

Gray’s commanding performance follows on the heels of Kyle Freeland’s outing a night earlier, when the lefty threw seven sizzling innings in an 8-0 win.

Padres: 3B Christian Villanueva was out of the starting lineup for a third straight game with hamstring tightness.

Alabama coach Nick Saban was never going to make a decision this spring. But as it turned out, there was no decision to be made. Tagovailoa broke his finger in the first practice of spring and further aggravated the injury a few weeks later. He didn’t play in the spring game last weekend. Hurts, for his part, was so-so in the spring game, completing 19 of 37 passes for 195 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

The last thing Saban is going to judge his quarterback race on is a spring game, and he’s also not going to be influenced by the comments from Hurts’ father, Averion Hurts, who told Bleacher Report his son would be the “biggest free agent in college football history” if he doesn’t win the starting job.

How’s it all going to play out? ESPN checked in with four head coaches and a defensive coordinator from around the country, and they weighed in anonymously. Just about all of them said they would handle it exactly the way Saban has — allow the competition to play out until somebody clearly wins the job on the practice field, all the while knowing that one of the quarterbacks could easily transfer before the season starts.steelers_034

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