Falcons Decline Fifth-Year Option for DE Charles Harris: Report

Charles Harris

Getty Charles Harris #90 of the Miami Dolphins before being traded to Atlanta.

The Atlanta Falcons added more defensive line depth on Friday at a low cost. Former Dolphins first-round edge rusher, Charles Harris was traded to the Falcons for their seventh-round pick in 2021.

Atlanta will not, however, be picking up Harris’ fifth-year option, per Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network. The Falcons can’t feel great about a few previously fifth-year options, specifically after the Vic Beasley disappointment.

Harris’ option would have cost the club just over $10 million and would have been guaranteed for injury only, but the Falcons weren’t willing to risk it.

Falcons Traumatized By Vic Beasley

“Traumatized” may be a bit of an oversell, but it would make sense. The Falcons also didn’t want to pick up Takk McKinley’s fifth-year option either.

The Clemson alum, Vic Beasley was picked No. 8 overall by the Falcons in the 2015 NFL Draft. Beasley went on to lead the league in sacks with 15.5 in 2016. He tallied just five sacks in both 2017 and 2018, but the Falcons picked up Beasley’s fifth-year option in 2018.

At the end of the 2019 season, Beasley recorded 8 sacks to lead the Falcons, but the team only registered a total of 28 sacks all year, finishing second to last in the NFL. The Falcons finished the season with a 7-9 record, struggling on the defensive side throughout the year.

The Falcons and Beasley parted ways this offseason.

Of course, we can’t put all the blame on Beasley for last season, we can only wish the Falcons didn’t opt to pick up his option and instead had simply wished him the best in his future endeavors.

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Harris’ Poor College to NFL Transition

Coming out of college at Missouri, the 6-foot-3, 252-pound defensive end was considered one of the top prospects in the 2017 draft class. Harris improved in each of his three seasons during his collegiate career and ended with 136 tackles, 34.5 tackles for a loss, 18 sacks, and five forced fumbles.

Harris, 25, was a first-round pick for the Dolphins in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, he was pegged to the Falcons in several mock drafts prior to the 2017 draft. For the past three years in the league, Harris has played in 41 games with eight starts. So far, Harris has recorded 61 tackles, 23 quarterback hits, 10 tackles for a loss, and 3.5 sacks.

Yes, we know his stats are incredibly disappointing, but for what its worth, he was only a part-time player on a Miami team that wasn’t nearly the best at rushing the passer as a team the past few seasons.

It’s not that his talent isn’t there, it’s that he hasn’t really gotten the opportunity and playing time to show it as he will in Atlanta. Plus, coaching matters too, and the Falcons have a new dime on the defensive line.

A Project in the Making

The Falcons also decided to do away with picking up McKinley’s fifth-option and take a “wait and see” approach on him. He has a lot to prove this season after his sack record declined as well, due to a shoulder injury.

Atlanta now has three former first-rounders on the defensive line with Dante Fowler,  McKinley, and Harris to rotate.

It’s obvious the Falcons see the potential that these guys have with giving them another chance to prove themselves in the league and hopefully they take their jobs seriously this year.

Falcons’ new “gem find”, Josh Lupoi says he’s ready to take on the task of transforming the d-line into sack machines during offseason.

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