Falcons decline Takk McKinley’s fifth-year option

Takkarist McKinley's career with Atlanta Falcons

Falcons defensive end Takk McKinley, a first-round pick in 2017 who’s set to enter his fourth season with the team, had his fifth-year option declined.

He announced the move on Twitter on Wednesday.

In a statement released later Wednesday, the Falcons said, “We have decided to not move forward with a fifth-year option for Takk, and at this time are taking a wait-and-see approach in terms of future contracts. Takk has shown the ability to produce at a high level, and we look forward to his production in 2020.”

McKinley, who played at UCLA, was selected with the 26th pick in the 2017 draft. The Falcons used draft capital -- a third round pick to Seattle -- to trade up five spots to select McKinley.

He has played in 45 games and made 21 starts. He had six sacks as a rookie, followed by seven in 2018 and only 3.5 last season.

During this year’s NFL combine there was some confusion over whether the Falcons were going to grant McKinley’s fifth-year option. The team officially was “still deciding” whether to grant it.

Falcons coach Dan Quinn said he misinterpreted a question at the combine about whether the team had decided to grant McKinley the option. The confusion caused some stir on social media.

In the end, it’s not a tough decision. McKinley, who was drafted with the knowledge that he would need surgery, has not been very productive over his first three seasons.

The Falcons seemed to have learned their lesson from granting Vic Beasley his $12.3 million fifth-year option last season. They announced they would not re-sign Vic Beasley at the end of this past season.

Beasley signed with Tennessee in free agency.

The Falcons need McKinley to recover from his third shoulder surgery and turn in his best season as a pro. The team is hoping that new defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi can unleash McKinley and turn him into a sack master.

To improve the pass rush, the Falcons signed Dante Fowler to a three-year, $48 million contract in free agency. They also re-signed defensive linemen Tyeler Davison and Allen Bailey and drafted defensive end/tackle Marlon Davidson in the second round of the NFL draft.

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