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Cowboys free agency focus: If Dallas can’t keep Robert Quinn, Vic Beasley is risk worth a look

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The Falcons are steering clear of extending Vic Beasley, Cowboys should keep watchful eye in free agency.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

[The Cowboys have a long list of their own free agents to consider but reality is that several will not return. In this series, we’ll look at the many free agents set to hit the open market in 2020 and if any of those might be of interest to the Cowboys. Below is a list of profiles from this series:]

DT Mike Daniels

SAF Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

SAF Karl Joseph

DT Andrew Billings

TE Eric Ebron

The Cowboys are in a tough spot with a long list of guys to make decisions on this offseason. They have made it clear that their top priorities are QB Dak Prescott and WR Amari Cooper. Everyone else will fall in line behind those two, which means guys will test the market and the Cowboys might not be able to retain them.

The Cowboys long list of unrestricted free agents includes their 2019 sack leader, Robert Quinn. He was one of the brightest stars during a lost season for the Cowboys. Robert Quinn’s 11.5 sacks last season has upped his market value anywhere between $12-$14 million annually. The Cowboys are flush with cash, with nearly $80 million in cap space. That number can climb higher with a few flicks of a pen as well. However, once the Cowboys sign Prescott and Cooper, that money will become a lot tighter.

It would be awful to lose Robert Quinn just when DeMarcus Lawrence finally got some help but it’s the reality of the NFL. If Dallas did lose out on Robert Quinn, they would be much smarter to go shopping for proven production than hoping to strike big in the NFL Draft. We all are aware of how cruel the NFL can be to rookie edge rushers. That’s why the Cowboys need to do some homework on Falcons edge rusher Vic Beasley.

VIC BEASLEY, FALCONS

Beasley was drafted eighth overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Falcons. He came out of Clemson a two-time Consensus All-American, two-time All-ACC First Team selection, and 2014’s ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Like many rookie edge rushers, Beasley didn’t set the league on fire but he did give brief flashes of the amazing athlete he can be. In Beasley’s second NFL season, he soared to the top of the league. In 12 starts, Beasley had 39 tackles, 15.5 sacks, six forced fumbles, and a defensive touchdown. The Falcons wound up blowing it in the Super Bowl but Beasley was a First Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection. His 15.5 sacks led the league.

Unfortunately for Beasley, the next two seasons would be a struggle. Between the 2017-2018 seasons, he only missed two games but he would only start half of the games he appeared in. He recorded five sacks in each of those seasons with 15 total tackles for loss. Beasley played and produced at both defensive end and outside linebacker but the Falcons were struggling on their way to a 7-9 record in 2018.

This past season, Atlanta puttered along to another 7-9 season without a playoff appearance. Beasley showed some improvement as he managed to start 15 games, record a career-high 42 tackles, led the team with eight sacks, and two forced fumbles. Still, at the beginning of the offseason, the Falcons made it known publicly that they were not interested in re-signing him, making him an unrestricted free agent.

Should the Cowboys worry about the Falcons washing their hands of a 27-year-old, former first-round pick with 37.5 career sacks and 11 forced fumbles? It’s definitely something that makes you ponder what exactly made them sour on the guy. At the same time, the Cowboys cannot afford to take another step back defensively, not when they have talent scattered throughout the roster. No, the Cowboys have to produce in 2020 and if they lose Quinn, they are back to searching for answers.

That answer is not Jadeveon Clowney, the former Seahawk who produced all of three sacks in 2019. Clowney has gained a lot of intrigue among Cowboys fans on social media but the proof of production is not there. Plus, if they are not able to afford Quinn, they are certainly not in line to pay Clowney’s inflated asking price. So, what can they afford to do? Take a chance on a player like Vic Beasley, who just might need a change of scenery. Right now, Beasley’s market value, according to Spotrac, is around three years, $22.1 million, an average of $7.4 million per year. That’s certainly within range and less than what the Cowboys gave Robert Quinn in 2019. The Cowboys’ first choice is to obviously retain Quinn but Vic Beasley could be a nice consolation prize if they can’t.