The Atlanta Falcons are fresh off of two back-to-back below .500 seasons and have not sniffed the playoffs since the 2017 season.
With the team steadily underperforming, the Falcons are destined to make some personnel changes. They’ve moved quickly in an offseason that theoretically hasn’t even officially started, while not shying away at cutting bait with former franchise cornerstones. Atlanta announced a meer day after the conclusion of the 2019 NFL season, following the Chiefs being crowned Super Bowl LIV champions, that they would be moving on from former sack-leader Vic Beasley.
Now, less than two weeks after, they are reportedly entertaining the idea of separating themselves from a player who at one point was a driving force of their offense.
Falcons May Release RB Devonta Freeman
It was not all that long ago that running Devonta Freeman was a member of the upper-echelon of running backs in the NFL. With a knack for finding the endzone, and dual-threat abilities in the run and pass game that were arguably second-to-none, Freeman cemented himself as a top playmaker in the league.
From 2015 through 2016, Freeman recorded an absurd 31 combined touchdowns, including a league-leading 16 total touchdowns in 2016.
His stellar on-field play helped him earn a hefty payday in the form of a six-year, $43.088 million contract, while in return also forcing Atlanta’s hand in letting Freeman’s running-mate Tevin Coleman walk in free agency.
However, after years of diminutive return on their investment, with a resume littered with injuries and underwhelming play, the Falcons are entertaining cutting bait with their once bell-cow running back, this according to NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.
Freeman, who is still currently the fifth-highest paid player at his position in the NFL as of today, has not performed nearly up to par, and the Falcons are apparently looking to get out from under a contract, which in hindsight they likely regret handing out in the first place.
Rapoport states that the Falcons could very well cut Freeman this offseason as a way to “save about $3 million in salary cap space,” and “avoid the cash, which is about $6 million.”
The Falcons would likely take the money saved from cutting Freeman and toss it the way of tight end Austin Hooper, who will undoubtedly have numerous suitors this offseason as an impending free agent.
Atlanta Almost Moved Freeman at the 2019 Trade Deadline
Another interesting tidbit Rapoport dropped while discussing Freeman’s future in Atlanta is that the Falcons “strongly entertained” the idea of trading their running back around the trade deadline this past season. Rapoport pointed towards the Detroit Lions as a team that showed interest in Freeman, before Atlanta ultimately opted not to make the move.
Rapoport added that ” If a team is willing to trade you, although they didn’t ultimately do it, that means your tenure might be coming to an end.”
Freeman is coming off of a 2019 season where he played in 14 games, tallying a rushing total of 656 yards on a meager 3.6 yards per carry and just two rushing touchdowns.