Defensive end Takk McKinley is still playing on his rookie contract, but that deal will end sooner rather than later. That's because the Atlanta Falcons elected to decline the fifth-year option on McKinley's contract Wednesday.
The defensive end appears to have broke the news himself on Twitter.
The Falcons drafted McKinley 26th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. As per NFL rules, all rookies sign four-year deals, but teams have the option to pick up a fifth season for all first-round picks.
There was probably a much greater chance of the Falcons picking up the defensive end's fifth season a year ago. In his first two NFL seasons, McKinley had 13 sacks and 25 quarterback hits in 31 games.
But last season, like many of the Atlanta pass rushers, McKinley had a disappointing year. While he did have a career-best 29 combined tackles, he turned in just 3.5 sacks despite receiving more playing time.
Without his fifth-year option, McKinley now enters a contract year, which could work out to be good or bad for all parties involved. McKinley should be extra motivated this season to play well in order to earn a higher wage on his next contract. However, if he plays too well, he could price himself out of Atlanta. The Falcons are still projected to be in a salary cap crunch next offseason.
Should McKinley not play well, though, he will very likely be seeking a fresh start with another team next year anyway.
In summary, the Falcons' decision to decline McKinley's fifth-year option means it's highly probable 2020 is his final season in Atlanta.