Although something of a sentimental goodbye, there was nothing surprising about the Atlanta Falcons releasing Roddy White. Now, it’ll be interesting to see if he remains in the NFL, with teams like the Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Tennessee Titans interested in him, or has he played his last game in the league.
White spent 11 seasons with the Falcons producing 10863 receiving yards and 63 touchdowns. A four-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro, he caught for over 1000 yards six straight seasons, but failed to do so in the last three. Maybe some minor injuries kept him from reaching that milestone in 2014 and 2013, but it was clear to see age and those injuries were slowing him down. In 2015, he was barely capable of getting any kind of separation, finishing with just 506 yards in 16 games with one touchdown.
With White having a $6.1 million cap hit in 2016 (and $6.3 million in 2017), the Falcons decided to cut their losses, although it saves them just $2.3 million in cap space next season due to dead money. But according to his career trajectory, in 2016 he’s barely going to be worth a place on the roster, which means paying him that much money simply doesn’t make sense if it’s possible to avoid it, despite his history with the team and with quarterback Matt Ryan.
So where to now? White might still have a place on a team that needs a number 3 or 4 receiver that will come cheaply, adding some experience. Both the Titans and Raiders have their offense run by former Falcons staffers who know White: Terry Robiskie and Bill Musgrave. The Buccaneers have been playing White twice a year for the last 11 seasons, although there could be more interest in him in the next few days.
For White, if past seasons are of any kind of lesson, signing a deal early is key. Waiting around too long for teams to draft players and then decide leaves him at the mercy of injuries. Injuries do always happen in the NFL, but it’s hard to believe that someone with just 31.6 yards per game last season in what doesn’t seem like an off year considering he’s turning 35 next November, has too much to gain by waiting for the perfect offer that isn’t going to come.
Don’t be surprised though if White ends up with the Falcons again, only signing a much more team-friendly deal. Playing for less money when there aren’t that many good offers out there doesn’t sound too bad all of a sudden if he doesn’t get picked up early in free agency.